Here on the MWPS web pages we often feature new innovative designs to capture wind energy. Few ever make it beyond the drawing board or prototype stage, and therefore the standard three-bladed wind turbines continue to be seen (although getting bigger year by year).
However, a Derbyshire inventor has teamed up with Nottingham's Trent University and found a new way of generating wind energy which could see smaller, more efficient turbines on the landscape. Future Factory, the University's sustainable design project, is helping Heath Evdemon, founder of Wind Power Innovations Ltd, to progress the first technology demonstration of the Wind Harvester – a small system capable of generating power from a wide range of wind speeds. Even though the blades are only just one meter long, the Wind Harvester appears to have the potential for both commercial and domestic use.
The Wind Harvester is based on a reciprocating motion that uses horizontal aerofoils similar to those used on airplanes. It has some distinct advantages over the ubiquitous three-bladed turbines mounted on a tower. It is virtually noise-free, which will be seen as a boon for those wanting to generate renewable energy near residential locations. Secondly not only can it generate electricity at a low wind speed, it can also be operated at higher wind speeds than existing wind turbines. Thirdly the blades can be increased in length to 15 meters but only needs to be less than a meter off of the ground if sited on outcrops, hills or even domestic or farm buildings. Finally, it can be taken apart and re-assembled easily and without the need for heavy machinery. That also means great savings in transportation costs.
Along with funding from Future Factory, Wind Power Innovations Ltd has also received £28,000 from the Peak District National Park's Sustainable Development Fund and £3,000 from the Live & Work Rural programme. A large-scale demonstrator is expected to be installed in the national park once it has been completed by the team.
Dr. Amin Al-Habaibeh, a Reader in Advanced Design and Manufacturing Technologies at Nottingham Trent University said:
"Nottingham Trent University is a leading university in sustainability and renewable energy. This project is an opportunity to develop the technology further for commercialization so that the Wind Harvester can be used in locations where it is difficult to install current wind turbine farms."
Heath Evdemon, the inventor, said
"I first had the idea for the Wind Harvester six years ago but I put it on the back burner at that time. It wasn't until I met the Future Factory team that I knew it could become a reality and their enthusiasm and support have been invaluable.
"We're looking for potential sites within the Peak District National Park at the moment and then we'll turn our attention to the industry, but it's a product which could one day be rolled out to farms working towards becoming carbon neutral and homeowners looking for a cheap and sustainable source of power."
Debra Easter, Future Factory project manager, said:
"Nottingham Trent University is ranked as the UK's greenest university in the People & Planet Green League and it's projects such as this that reaffirm our commitment to the environment. We're very excited to be helping Heath realize his dream and potentially change the face of wind power."
Nottingham Trent University is a research university that was founded in 1992 from the previous Nottingham Polytechnic, but it has its roots much earlier; in 1843 it started life as the Nottingham Government School of Design. Today the university is one of the largest universities in the United Kingdom with around 24,000 students.
See a video explaining how the turbine works here: Trent University Turbine