Clever new renewable power source (Wind with a difference)

Welcome to UKHIppy2764@2x.png

UKHippy is a long running online community and of likeminded people exploring all interpretations on what it means to be living an alternative lifestyle -- we welcome discussions on everything related to sustainability, the environment, alternative spirituality, music, festivals, politics and more -- membership of this website is free but supported by the community.

  • engineering boy disagrees. i think the design looks terrible, wind being that unpredictable thing that it is tends to move about lots. that'd require a *very* strong/flexible cable to hold a generator that big in place. even then there's a very big change that the conductors inside the cable would snap with the near constant movement.


    there's also the problems or airspace, they can have them flying up too high otherwise they'll get hit by things.

  • Its a spin off of an 80's USA military project to create floating Kevlar refuelling stations - this thing actually got off the ground with the same funding as the Star Wars project. Its invented by Fred Ferguson (He is a legend in the airship business). Helium is not the only thing that keeps the object aloft. Combined with its shape, the spinning generates lift using what is called the Magnus effect, which also tends to keep the craft overhead on its tether, rather than drifting downwind.

    A wind farm in Southern Ontario has already gained planning permission and they already have a distributor on board... I think it genuinely is going to happen - stop being a kill joy Perthite :harhar: ;)




    Price has been set as well. Unfortunately its going to be a bit high for us individuals initially (At least in general anyway) - about £6k including transformer. As always with new technologies though prices will drop as take up increases and production costs go down.

  • Quote from Brick

    Don't know if this gadget has been mentioned on here. Not so useful for vans & campsites, but good for houses... http://www.windsave.com/WS1000.htm



    Not that model no... The amount they are producing is really good. The price is now down to £1500 in VAT and installation (Including a generator/rectifier) which isn't that bad considering for a plug and play solution!

  • Hi guys,

    I've studied airships, blimps and semi-rigids for some time now. To address Perthite's point about it being heavy - it simply *can't* be because the craft is only small and the amount of lifting volume determines what can be lifted and what cannot. It weighs what, 150kg or so? I'm sure basic aircraft control cable would be strong enough - though there may already be something more suitable. High wind might be a greater problem, but you would just lower it - most wind turbines have an optimum speed anyway, so it wouldn't be such a loss... many conventional wind turbines automatically pitch in high winds to avoid damage.

    I'm curious why they are using the magnus lifting effect. From what I know it's more trouble than it's worth - consuming lot's of energy for only small gains in lift - why not just use a slightly bigger lifting volume!

    £6k is actually quite cheap when you start looking at comparable output systems... I was expecting it to be much much more! Unfortunatly it would be expensive to run, which I shall come to later.

    They said they would have a *prototype* in 2006, I very much doubt we will see these on the market in 12 months. Besides, anything airship related tends to drag on and drag on, then the company goes bust and that's it - although using a tether does make things a lot simpler!

    Personally I can't see it becoming the next big thing, at least in the UK - because of planning laws (you need planning for long-term sighting of just a small advertising tethered blimp much smaller than this). And certainly it wouldn't really work in Wales because of frequent low flying combat aircraft!

    One last thing - the cost of helium is huge. I would estimate perhaps £1000 or more to fill it, and then requiring regular top ups daily of a few pounds (helium is a very small element so it's impossible to keep it in regardless of what material you use).

    Hydrogen is a lot cheaper and you could even generate it from the power of the turbine itself. Several countries have banned it as a lifting gas because of the risk, though I don't see the problem with an unmanned craft - by the time it fell to the ground the only thing still burning would be the envelope. The risk of fire would be tiny though with a properly designed system.

  • Also, I don't see how they can do a "backpack" model.

    The whole idea of the concept is that the generator is lifted higher up where the wind is stronger. Unfortunatly, the weight of the cable alone would need a large blimp, and introduced a fixed payload weight regardless of the size of the blimp.

    I looked into making a model blimp once and even for small payloads of a few hundred grams you needed a big blimp, let alone the payload of even a small wind turbine.

    Another thing they have not considered again is the helium - carrying about a large helium canister isn't really practical, they weigh a lot and I don't think 1 would be enough.

    I conclude that there is a minimum size where this sort of thing would actually work... something launched from a vehicle. It makes increasing sense for larger and larger craft.

  • Okay, I now see that their magnus effect is purely a by-product of the turbine operation rather than something they are deliberatly inducing. Even so, there marketing yadda yadda made me smile about how it generates "extra lift"... you don't need any if it's tethered! ;)

  • Quote from cymru_jules



    One last thing - the cost of helium is huge. I would estimate perhaps £1000 or more to fill it, and then requiring regular top ups daily of a few pounds (helium is a very small element so it's impossible to keep it in regardless of what material you use).

    Hydrogen is a lot cheaper and you could even generate it from the power of the turbine itself. Several countries have banned it as a lifting gas because of the risk, though I don't see the problem with an unmanned craft - by the time it fell to the ground the only thing still burning would be the envelope. The risk of fire would be tiny though with a properly designed system.



    I had that thought when I was feeling about it on the way home last night...

    Can you not get nonporous polyester-reinforced nylon coated with Kevlar type stuff that would stop any escape? - I think NASA use something like it? - I might be very wrong though!

    I really like the idea of hydrogen - it makes sense for this application.

  • Nope - no way of keeping it in, simply because the molecules are smaller - it's not really to do with porousness in the usual sense. It came as a surprise to me too, to learn that it can go through solids too. In the 30's I believe the americans made a lovely little airship out of aluminium skin (real aluminium sheet - not just foil!) - but even so it still leaked straight through the solid material!

    Only bigger envelopes use laminates of several materials, and in those cases you only have one material keeping the gas in, another for strength (it seems obvious but bigger blimps can carry much bigger loads - increaseing the diameter by just a few metres can yield a payload capacity of several tonnes up from a few hundred kg!). Finally there would be another material to protect everything from UV damage and general weathering.

    I havn't heard of a polyester / nylon combo, though you could probably find a google example somewhere. I think Nylon is less permeable, stronger, tear resistatnt and more resistant to UV damage - but more expensive. Many hot air balloonists upgrade to a nylon envelope over a polyester one if they can afford in. Though in contrast, at least one airship publication said that polyester is most ideal for blimps.

    It's a minefield! :p

  • Quote from cymru_jules



    It's a minefield! :p



    Yup. I'm going to leave it to the 'expert' who designed this thing! Fingers crossed its not just a load of hot air (boom boom)