Wind turbines don't seem to have changed very much in the last few decades. Yes, they've gotten a heck of a lot bigger. And I will tell you that the innards of the devices have been the subject of industrial espionage and patent wars.
But they look pretty much the same.
Which might lead you to believe that there's not much we can do to make wind turbines much more efficient than they already are. But "FloDesign" seems to think that is not the case. For the first time since I started EcoGeek, I'm seeing horizontal axis wind turbine that doesn't look like a great-big propeller.
What it does look like is a great big jet engine. And maybe that makes sense, as jet engines are more efficient than props in driving airplanes. I'm afraid I can't explain the technology, because fluid dynamics are way over my head, but the designers of the turbine are making some fascinating claims.
There is a theoretical limit to how efficient wind turbines can be. But the designers of this turbine say that it removes whatever limitation makes that constant apply, and thus these turbines can be far more efficient and cost-effective:
A stator-rotor turbine cascade design is used to more effectively extract energy from the flow. For a given wind velocity, a MEWT having a maximum diameter 50% smaller than an existing 3-Bladed HAWT can potentially generate over 50% more power, and can potentially cost 25-35% less than the same HAWT.
So we're talking about a 25% decrease in cost with 50% more power generated. If I'm doing the numbers right, that makes wind significantly cheaper than coal throughout the entire Midwest United States. But this is still at the early stages of research and development. There needs to be a lot of work done before we'll know anything for sure. But I will say that FloDesign is officially in my RSS reader...I can't wait to hear what news they've got next.