HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Blog

Helium-Filled Wind Turbine Harvests High-Altitude Energy

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
The new direction in turbines is up
Elizabeth M   3/31/2014 6:09:24 AM
NO RATINGS
I think this is quite an ingenious new direction to take wind turbines as there is a lot of energy to be harvested from winds at high altitudes. If this technology proves itself it could be a real breakthrough for places where there is not a lot of ground space for turbines, but there is still quite a bit of wind. I will be curious to see how it fares in the Alaska test.

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
NadineJ   3/31/2014 6:24:58 PM
NO RATINGS
Many areas in the world are remote, windy and have no fossil fuels. 

According to the video on their site, this generates twice the power of regular wind turbines.  How does the cost compare?  Currently, wind is more expensive than solar.  All clean sources are more expensive than dirty, in dollars anyway.

If it works, will companies and governments invest?

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
shehan   3/31/2014 10:04:53 PM
NO RATINGS
@NadineJ- a good way of saying it "all clean sources are more expensive than dirty". This might defiantly cost more as we are talking about a floating turbine. 

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
shehan   3/31/2014 10:06:03 PM
NO RATINGS
@NadineJ – when we have more vendors I am sure the prices will come down soon. 

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
Elizabeth M   4/1/2014 6:59:43 AM
NO RATINGS
These are great questions, NadineJ. I don't have answers to them at the moment but the company plans to stay in touch with me as they test and have other news to share. This is definitely a great idea with lots of potential, but there is still a lot to be proven here to see if this will really work.

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
shehan   3/31/2014 9:53:47 PM
NO RATINGS
Wow great idea to have a floating turbine which captures much energy than the ones we already have. Thanks for the great post

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: The new direction in turbines is up
shehan   3/31/2014 9:58:32 PM
NO RATINGS
@Elizabeth – yes it's a good way to capture some energy where there is very less land space. 

78RPM
User Rank
Gold
Aircraft
78RPM   3/31/2014 2:10:16 PM
NO RATINGS
I wonder how they will keep airplanes from hitting the tethers as they might be hard to see. It would be good if they could put a net on both ends of the tunnel to prevent bird deaths. Some birds fly that high.

I also wonder about the vector of force on the tethers at such high angles of elevation. As wind speed increases, the altitude of the turbine would decrease leaving the leeward tethers hanging slack. But I'm sure they have thought this out.

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Aircraft
NadineJ   3/31/2014 6:20:59 PM
NO RATINGS
You're right.  I'm sure they've worked it out.  An internship at SpaceX is a great way to learn how to solve problems that others are afraid to approach. 

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: Aircraft
shehan   3/31/2014 10:03:02 PM
NO RATINGS
@NadineJ – yes most companies don't come up with such innovative ideas, we could easily harvest some good renewable energy. 

far911
User Rank
Silver
Re: Aircraft
far911   4/2/2014 1:43:29 AM
NO RATINGS
Certainly we can arrange for an other source of energy but subject to the output as per input has to be higher other wise whats the point of going into a field which is not worth it.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Aircraft
Elizabeth M   4/3/2014 5:14:26 AM
NO RATINGS
I think what people need to remember here is that the founder of the company does have aeronautical experience at SpaceX. I am sure what he learned there will go a long way to making this concept work.

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: Aircraft
shehan   3/31/2014 10:00:35 PM
NO RATINGS
@78RPM – yes im sure they have some solutions for this. For planes and other flying objects you could have a flashing light to indicate there is obstruction ahead. 

shehan
User Rank
Gold
Re: Aircraft
shehan   3/31/2014 10:02:01 PM
NO RATINGS
@78RPM I am not quite sure how they have control of the altitude problem of the turbine as wind speed increase.  

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Aircraft
tekochip   4/1/2014 9:54:25 AM
NO RATINGS
No kidding 78RPM, 2000' AGL is a pretty good cruising altitude for General Aviation.  The balloon would be easy enough to see and avoid in VFR conditions, but the wing-shredding guy wires would be rather frightening, after all, how far would it drift?  There was a recent accident where a helicopter was clear of a tower, but clipped a guy wire killing all on board.  There aren't too many places with towers that tall, but I always give them a very wide berth.  I refer to them as "friendly towers" because they just want to reach up and give your aircraft a big hug.


beentheredonethat
User Rank
Iron
Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
beentheredonethat   4/1/2014 2:32:23 PM
NO RATINGS
Interesting article...This prototype is designed for 30 kW of generation.  Will the final product be larger?  The cost per kWh might be prohibitive at this size?

Another commenter mentions, "which captures much energy [as] than the ones we already have".  I do not know where he got this information since I could not find it in the article.  Commercial wind turbines in service by utilities produce about 1.3 MW each, or about 43 times as much.

I assume High-Altitude winds remain uni-directional for the most part.  Turning and controlling for changing directions, if needed, might be a challenge using long tethers.

I'll be interested to learn more about this project...

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
William K.   4/1/2014 3:08:00 PM
NO RATINGS
Quite a concept, I wonder about how frequect the helium refills will be needed, though. And just like that flying gereator platform that we read about a year ago, bringing power down to the ground is a challenge. To keep the conductors light the voltage goes up, which then dmands separated conductors, and now there is a challenge of keeping them separate. I wonder how the other project is working, and it will  be very interesting to see if this project scales up nicely.

Trenth
User Rank
Silver
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Trenth   4/1/2014 4:35:28 PM
NO RATINGS
Might be great for cargo ships, or military ships.   

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Elizabeth M   4/3/2014 5:18:49 AM
NO RATINGS
That's an interesting application of the technology, Trenth, but I am not exactly sure if I agree with you. Although the fact that there probably wouldn't be a lot of air traffic around in these locations and the fact that they are very remote make them a good option for deployment of this turbine, I wonder whether the infrastructure of those ships could support it? Perhaps military ships but I am not sure about cargo.

Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Jerry dycus   4/3/2014 8:58:37 AM
NO RATINGS
Aircraft are everywhere  and the FAA that controls airspace gaurds it well.  And once 1,000's of these are up above 1,000' and even there, are going to kill people.

I'm very familar and just look at how hard it is to put up big TV antenna towers that take out a number of aircraft/yr at only 1,000' or less.  Multiply this multiple times.

Many places like by my house small planes must fly under 1,000' or even 500' to stay below the TCA landing airspace.  

 

 

cookiejar
User Rank
Gold
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
cookiejar   4/4/2014 9:43:07 AM
NO RATINGS
I agree that the aviation industry and regulators would be out to kill the spread of these devices.
On the other hand, there are large wind turbine farms off the coast of Europe, that I figure would be a major hazard to ships and watercraft.

I guess it's all a matter of power politics.  Today's trend is to the very best policians that money can buy.  Wind turbines weren't getting far until the big money stepped in.

Trenth
User Rank
Silver
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Trenth   4/3/2014 3:41:09 PM
NO RATINGS
For cargo it would work except maybe when driving directly into the wind.

Cargo ships are increasingly using electric drives, and container ships need massive electrical power for refrigeration.  

http://www.motorship.com/news101/ships-and-shipyards/innovative-diesel-electric-system-for-dutch-cargo-ships

http://www.longtailpipe.com/2012/10/if-container-ships-were-fully-electric.html

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1020063_pollution-perspective-one-giant-cargo-ship-emits-as-much-as-50-million-cars

It's worth doing.





Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Jerry dycus   4/1/2014 6:30:47 PM
NO RATINGS
While the basic concept is doable, this particular one won't be among them.

It uses far too much material in the duct and far too much air drag plus complicated when a lighter, more simple style will work much better, cost less with more output and stay up in higher winds.

The aircraft problem if these become popular will likely get then banned over 500-100' but that's still good.  The FAA controls airspace and can even block high buildings in the wrong places, etc.

What won't work is using helium as too costly, rare  and not enough lift causing the body to be larger than needed compared to H2 lifting gas. No fire isn't a problem.

But many places are going to not be plesed this big set of rotating blades above them limiting where it can be used.

I for yr watched the Key's Fat Albert Radar bolloons and they had all kinds of problems which my above better or others aero body helps solve.  They ended up being up less than 10% of the time.

I'd do a flying wing with several rotors on the trailing edge or a streamline bag with rotors around the sides.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
William K.   4/1/2014 6:54:17 PM
NO RATINGS
J.D. Right on most counts, but the more stable and constant wind is often a lot higher than 500 feet. So the airborne generating system will indeed need to go much higher. But presently there are no-fly zones and aviation gets along with that quite well. In addition, putting them up at 2000 feet or maybe 2500 will keep that noise that people complain about away. I approached a large windmill a while back and could not hear any sound at about a hundred yards, so I do wonder what the folks are hearing.  Plus they will be a bit more out of sight so that people won't be looking at them, and probably higher than most birds fly, which should reduce the bird impacts.  So a lighter and much larger airborn system, like was described a year back, or so, is indeed probably a better choice. BUT now for a temporary emergency generating system the one in the writeup might be good. AND yes, use hydrogen instead of helium. When thye helium is gone there isn't any more. It's GONE.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Elizabeth M   4/3/2014 5:07:09 AM
NO RATINGS
These are all very valid points, Jerry dycus. If what you're saying is true I suppose the company will find out during tests. I do still think it's a workable concept.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Helium-Filled Wind Turbine article
Elizabeth M   4/2/2014 5:30:01 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your comment beentheredonethat. There will be a lot more details about the wind turbine available after the test in Alaska, so stay tuned for more stories. I'm sure also you might find more information on the company's website.

DarwinE
User Rank
Iron
Nooo, not helium!
DarwinE   4/2/2014 2:00:52 PM
NO RATINGS
Seems like only modest improvement over ground based wind turbines for very irresponsible use of our most precious natural resource: Helium.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Nooo, not helium!
Elizabeth M   4/3/2014 5:04:19 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks for your comment, DarwinE. I didn't think about the use of helium but to be honest, I actually this the possible benefits of this outweigh the cost of using helium.

NadineJ
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Nooo, not helium!
NadineJ   4/3/2014 10:59:27 AM
NO RATINGS
It's true that helium is an expensive and dwindling natural resource but I think this is a much better use than the Mylar balloons that we see in grocery stores.

Partner Zone
More Blogs
An Israeli design student has created a series of unique pieces of jewelry that can harvest energy from default movements of the body and even use human blood as a way to conduct energy.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Help us recognize engineers who are ahead of the trends and making big moves in the design engineering community.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Aug 18 - 22, Embedded Software Development With Python & the Raspberry Pi
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: September 30 - October 2
Sponsored by Altera
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service