Monthly Archives: September 2012

New technologies and creative ideas will make wind power less lethal to birds, and less noisy

Knowing that wind turbines are killing birds, which takes the positive glow off of one of our best sources of renewable energy, several inventors are looking at new ideas to make turbines both more efficient, less noisy, and blade-Bladeless wind turbineless so that birds won’t be cut down in mid flight.

The first is an idea of Raymond Green, a retired World War II veteran who has built a prototype for a quiet, drum shaped, bladeless wind turbine. It weighs just 45 pounds and the 12″ diameter turbine mounts behind a 31-inch windsock and compression cone which cover the blades so that birds can’t hit them. Read more on the inventor’s site.

The second idea is from a company called Saphon Energy, and is called “zero blade” technology. In their words:

The Zero-Blade Technology is largely inspired from the sailboat and is likely to increase the efficiency of the current wind power conversion devices. The blades are replaced by a sail-shaped body while both hub Imageand gearbox are removed. Instead of spinning the blades’ rotor, the wind is being harnessed by a sail which follows a non-rotational back and forth motion.

Such movement follows a knot path and allows the conversion of the majority of the kinetic energy into mechanical energy (using pistons). The same is then converted to a hydraulic pressure that could either be stored (in hydraulic accumulator) or instantly converted to electricity via a hydraulic motor and a generator. Thanks to the aerodynamic shape of the Saphonian, the drag force becomes the driving force of the system while the lift force becomes almost nil.

They have recently won a KMPG innovation award and have been featured on a TED talk.

We will be following both of these interesting technologies in the future!

New technology promises to reduce the cost of solar energy by 75%

It’s clear that once solar panels become cost-effective when compared to traditional sources of electricity, the adoption of this clean and renewable source of energy grows exponentially.  Toward this end, researchers at RTI International have developed a new solar technology that could make solar energy 75% less expensive.

The RTI solar cells are developed from semiconductor particles, known as colloidal quantum dots, and can have a power conversion efficiency that is competitive to traditional cells at a fraction of the cost. An initial analysis shows that the material costs is approximately $20 per square meter—as much as 75 percent less than traditional solar cells.

The cells, which are composed of lightweight, flexible layers, have the potential to be manufactured using high volume, low cost roll-to-roll processing with inexpensive coating processes. Unlike traditional solar cells, the RTI-developed cells can be processed at room temperature, further reducing input energy requirements and cost.

You can read more about this promising technology in a paper published in Applied Physics Letters.