Although the technology seems settled, new wind power designs are still being developed, especially as engineers try to extend the generating capacity of turbines. The Aerogenerator X is a new 10 MW wind turbine designed for off-shore use combining the best of horizontal axis and vertical axis designs. The engineering firm Arup and architects Grimshaw developed the design (based on an earlier Grimshaw design from a couple years ago) on behalf of the British company Wind Power Limited.
The familiar, three-bladed, horizontal axis turbine is a well established design, but increased stresses as the size of these turbines increases makes it difficult to enlarge them further. Because of the square-cube law, larger wind turbines produce exponentially more power, so there is an incentive to build larger and larger turbines. This led to the innovative design, inspired by the sycamore leaf.
Aerogenerator X has a very large swept area, like a horizontal axis turbine. The span of the turbine is 275 meters (over 900 feet). But the Aerogenerator X is also only half the height of an equivalent horizontal axis turbine. And like a vertical axis turbine, the generator and equipment are located at the base. Stresses on the blades are reduced in this configuration, making it easier to design and build something of this size. This also makes maintenance much easier, especially for an offshore turbine.
Project partners also include Rolls-Royce, Shell, BP, EDF, EON, Caterpillar, and the UK government. The first full-scale versions of this turbine are expected to be completed by 2013 or 2014.
written by Rain Byars, August 24, 2010
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