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X-Wind Envisions Wind-Powered Electric Railways

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Elizabeth M
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Good idea
Elizabeth M   7/24/2013 9:02:42 AM
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I think this is a great idea if it's economically feasible and it works to develop and deploy these windmills to power infrastructure like trains that use so much electricity. I also think X-Wind's design vision is quite future forward in their care to eliminate noise and impact on the environment. Now if the subways could also be powered by renewables somehow, or perhaps even energy harvesting, that would be even better.

tekochip
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Re: Good idea
tekochip   7/24/2013 12:18:57 PM
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Certainly a great idea.  I wonder about the return on investment.  It looks like the article says they will need a turbine every 100m, so that's quite a few turbines on the average commuter rail.  Let us know how the five turbine trial goes.


Charles Murray
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Re: Good idea
Charles Murray   7/24/2013 7:31:42 PM
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What will they do if the wind's not blowing? I assume they will need some form of energy storage.

Bunter
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Re: Good idea
Bunter   7/25/2013 9:12:53 AM
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One good point Charles.

Wonder what the real world cost per mile will be also.

Will the power produced be adequate to the load?  Energy density often seems to be the chief difficulty of "green" ideas.

Not  saying it can't/won't work, but I've seen way too many of these "great ideas" crash due to folks not asking the hard questions.

I've always liked the verical axis idea, BTW.  It has been around for decades (or longer) is anyone here familiar with the issues that have held it back?  The unidirectional aspect of the design and the ability to put the heavy bits (gearing, generator) on the ground should reduce cost, maintainance and complexity.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Jerry dycus
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Gold
Re: Good idea
Jerry dycus   7/25/2013 10:21:27 PM
Charles after all this time you don't know the answer to that question when the wind stops? Isn't it obvious? Isn't it the same if they made too much power? What would they do?

What do they do when the train stops? Oh My!!

 

And the VAWT's are only 10-20% as cost effective as HAWT's as they are less eff, take 3-10x's the materials, space with many more parts.  Only a fool or one who didn't have a clue would recommend them.

I've done both kinds and built some of the best ones made and no way a VAWT is worth doing  for cost effective power.

Nothing even new about Railways powering with RE, mostly wind or solar has been mentioned 50+ times I can think about.

The real killer app is for the wind, solar production not to run the train as much as pay for  and running it by selling power.  Also pipeline, powerline and commuication lines space rentals to pay for the trains/tracks or even a profit.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/29/2013 1:20:34 PM
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Wind farms must be big enough so that changes in wind coming from one turbine to another can be balanced out. Beyond that, many (most?) of these farms are tied into utilities which do load balancing, just like on any other complex distributed system.



patb2009
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Re: Good idea
patb2009   7/29/2013 2:02:29 PM
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if on average you are grid neutral, you are ahead of the game.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/24/2013 8:10:33 PM
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Thanks, Elizabeth--I think it's fascinating that the guy who designed this took inspiration from aeronomics and aircraft design. And I like the bird- and bat-friendly aspect, too.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Good idea
Elizabeth M   7/25/2013 6:00:26 AM
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I agree, Ann, the aircraft-inspired design is quite cool, and makes perfect sense. I wonder if other wind-turbine designers are thinking this way as well? It is definitely a new level of innovation for this technology.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/25/2013 11:58:13 AM
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I'm wondering the same thing--if other wind turbine designers will follow suit and consider this approach.

vandamme
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Silver
Re: Good idea
vandamme   7/25/2013 3:54:33 PM
VAWTs have been studied to death. They have their niche, but they are less efficient that horizontal ones. These are close to the surface, which reduces power substantially. The idea might work on the open prarie. It depends on the costs ivolved, including maintenance of all those turbines.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/25/2013 5:30:46 PM
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vandamme, can you point us to some sources of comparative data between VAWTs and horizontal designs?

vandamme
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Silver
Re: Good idea
vandamme   7/25/2013 11:00:09 PM
Um, well no I can't, just stuff I've read in the popular press. But you notice that big turbines are all horizontal.  I'm a radar engineer by trade, alternative energy enthusiast by night. VAWTs are simpler, though, because they don't need steering controls and mechanisms.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea
Ann R. Thryft   7/29/2013 1:21:57 PM
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vandamme, thanks for the honest answer. You said VAWTs had been studied a lot so that tells us they're not a new idea. But it also makes some of us wonder why they haven't been deployed more. You said they are less efficient than horizontal ones, so I was wondering why/how, hence my question about some comparative data between VAWTs and horizontal designs. Just because 99% of what's being used is Version A, that doesn't mean it's the best technology, only that it's the current dominating technology. It does sound like VAWTs would be worthwhile in some locations and situations and it would be interesting to know which ones.

vandamme
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Silver
Re: Good idea??
vandamme   7/29/2013 1:52:33 PM
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Like I said, I'm an EE, so an ME or aero engineer should jump in with an explanation. Seems to me that VAWTs run on the small differences in forward vs. backward air resistance of the blades to give torque to the rotor. They have no way of aiming the air flow; but this is an advantage when you don't want the complexity of steering, or the wind is variable in angle. HAWTs rely in the inclined plane principle and most of the incident air is used in pushing on the blade. I've seen VAWT designs that use ducting or blades that feather into the wind on the return side; they increase the forward/backward resistance to give greater output, but are much more complicated or bulky. But you can put the generator on a fixed point at the bottom, a big advantage. You can't generalize and say one is better than the other. I'd expect that big turbine buyers do their calculations carefully, and for their given constraints the HAWT is the obvious answer.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Good idea??
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2013 5:13:35 PM
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Thanks for that explanation, vandamme, in the absence of comments by an ME or AE. Are there any out there who can enlighten us further about the differences between HAWTs and VAWTs?



patb2009
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Re: Good idea
patb2009   3/17/2014 3:22:14 AM
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Liz

 

Vertical Turbines have a way lower effective blade loading then a Horizontal turbine.

The big turbines have all settled on 2 and 3 axis Horizontal blades with minor

aero-optimization.  Vertical turbines put over half the blade area out of surface.

The measures are $/watt, $/KWH and $/Site.  I suspect HAWT turbines are winning

across the board.

 

if you want to see a little skepticism, look at 

http://barnardonwind.com/2013/06/03/good-and-bad-bets-new-wind-technologies-rated/

and

http://www.wind-works.org/cms/index.php?id=335&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=19&cHash=223c17f4046bb06bf9621a6abeeda995

Elizabeth M
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Re: Good idea
Elizabeth M   3/17/2014 6:06:06 AM
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Thanks for the comment and perspective, patb2009. I will take a look at the link you sent--seems interesting.

patb2009
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Gold
Re: Good idea
patb2009   3/17/2014 11:39:17 AM
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If you Look at a HAWT, turbine all the Blades face all the wind.

So you get 100% blade loading.  However it means you have to put the generator

on a lazy susan (No Insult intended), and run power down some slip rings.

A solution the industry is very comfortable with.

 

If you look at a VAWT,  the Front blade does all the work, the 2 side blades to nothing,

and the rear blade is heavily blanked by the machine shafts.  

Max Loading?  maybe 33%.  

That means the machine won't run well in light winds due to the extra drag forces.

 

VAWT seems very clever but the physics are just awful.  

 

It's an idea that is superficially clever but practically stupid, 

 

 

 

 

Battar
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Platinum
Green
Battar   7/24/2013 9:28:07 AM
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I have read articles by environmentalists campaigning against wind turbines ( kills birds, blocks the view, makes a noise). I have read articles by environmentalists campaigning against electric railways (ELF radiation, blocks the view). So the biggest hurdle is to get this technology past the "greens" - who, in my corner of the world, object first and ask questions afterwards.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Green
Nancy Golden   7/24/2013 11:37:38 AM
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That is amazing Battar. Are these environmentalists proposing an alternate effective solution? One often finds that people jump on a bandwagon without understanding the ramifications. A classic example is the closing of slaughterhouses in the United States. Celebrities and animal lovers across the country jumped on that bandwagon. However, none of them offered to take in the unwanted horses that would result. I am a life long horse lover and I find it heartbreaking that these animals who would have been slaughtered humanely are now being crammed in horrendous conditions in trailers and hauled across the border to be slaughtered where there is no regulations for humane treatment of animals, or the horses that are being slowly starved by people unable to afford to feed them. On the face of it, slaughterhouses sound horrible, but however unfortunate it is that there are unwanted horses in the world, slaughterhouses serve a real purpose. I know this seems off topic but not really - it frustrates me when people protest something with promise like using wind power, without thinking through all of the ramifications. Some people object first and don't even bother to ask questions and that is a shame.

TJ McDermott
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Wake turbulence
TJ McDermott   7/25/2013 1:39:19 AM
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The image with the article makes me think the designers want to harvest some of the wake turbulence of passing trains.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Wake turbulence
Elizabeth M   7/25/2013 5:54:07 AM
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Interesting observation, TJ, I am sure there is potential for harvesting there, too.

GTOlover
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Platinum
Re: Wake turbulence
GTOlover   7/25/2013 9:09:39 AM
TJ, I think the image is of a road and not a railway. This would imply that they need to harvest the wake turbulence of ICE vehicles. Being it is in Europe, probably deisel vehicles. If your observation is true, then for the energy requirement to be met for the train, carbon based fuel has to be used. Seems we cannot get away from this premise. Maybe we run deisel train engines instead?

Battar
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Re: Wake turbulence
Battar   7/26/2013 11:51:31 AM
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T J, wouldn't that increase the wind resistance of the train ? I don't see a free sandwich on the table. here.

AnandY
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Gold
Re : X-Wind Envisions Wind-Powered Electric Railways
AnandY   7/25/2013 11:36:20 PM
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On paper, this idea seems flawless and all good. Potentially higher power outputs, less noise than horizontal turbines, lower costs, easy portability, less maintenance required, better returns on investments and better visibility to our 'flying friends', I wonder what else one would demand? I believe even if half of these potential qualities are true, we are up for something really useful.

AnandY
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Gold
Re : X-Wind Envisions Wind-Powered Electric Railways
AnandY   7/25/2013 11:37:35 PM
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@ Nancy Golden, You are right in saying that people often jump on bandwagon without asking the right counter questions. Your horse and slaughterhouses example is not off the topic at all and points in the right direction. Euphoria of going green is all right, but it should not stop the experts from pondering over the relevant points. If someone asks critical questions, he is not necessarily against the idea. He is actually trying to raise the question so that it can be addressed before it's too late.

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