A couple of years back, Rick Cavallaro and his wind-powered car--Blackbird--silenced an online debate about whether its possible for a wind-powered vehicle to move downwind faster than the speed of the wind itself by going out and outrunning the wind.
By Sarah Parsons
Posted 09.16.2011 at 2:30 pm 45 Comments
Among homeowners, wind energy has never caught on, in large part because personal turbines are often noisy and inefficient. Most turbines need strong winds to turn a heavy central generator and create current, a design with two main disadvantages. First, the gears make a lot of noise. Plus, the generator is positioned at the blades’ center, which moves at one tenth the speed of the periphery. And less speed translates to less power.
Masayoshi Son, entrepreneurial founder of Softbank, Japan's third-largest mobile network, and according to Forbes, the nation's richest man, unveiled a vague but undeniably ambitious plan to completely change Japan's energy infrastructure. His plan, which relies heavily on wind and geothermal power and abandons nuclear, would, he says, shift the majority of Japan's energy sources to renewable energy by 2030.
A new hybrid power plant to be built in Turkey will combine a traditional gas-fired steam turbine with solar thermal power and wind power, according to GE. It’s a step toward integrating renewable sources into the traditional power grid, using steam and mirrors.
A new bridge concept incorporates wind and solar energy into its design, generating 40 million kilowatt-hours per year — and looking pretty slick to boot.
The Solar Wind concept would use the space between an existing viaduct in southern Italy to install 26 wind turbines, which designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino say could provide 36 million kilowatt hours of electricity every year.
Future airborne wind turbines could spin with greater gusto in the faster winds found at high altitudes, and send power back to Earth via nanotube tether cables. Swarms of energy-harvesting kites, whirling blimps or balloons could stay aloft for a year, and could be reeled in during storms or for maintenance.
Transportation to some of America’s most iconic tourist destinations will be a little more high-tech and eco-friendly come April. Statue Cruises, which provides ferry service to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, has signed an agreement with Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Connecticut to create the world’s first hybrid ferry that runs on hydrogen, solar and wind power.
Never mind using the solar wind to power spacecraft — that’s old hat. Scientists at Washington State University want to use solar wind to power the entire world. A humongous solar sail could be used to harvest the power of solar winds, generating 1 billion billion gigawatts of electricity.
Seven miles off the coast of Kent, 100 380-foot turbines, spanning 22 square miles and representing two years of construction, have begun to power Britain. Bearing a price tag of 780 million pounds, this is the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
Chicago was nicknamed the Windy City because of its blowhard politicians, not the powerful gusts off Lake Michigan. But a new parking garage took the name to heart regardless and installed this amazing helix-shaped wind turbine system inside the building, making urban turbines not only cool, but functional.
This summer, 12 turbines started spinning at Greenway Self-Park, which bills itself, somewhat oxymoronically, as Chicago's first Earth-friendly parking garage.
Wind turbines of the future will be hulking behemoths, each capable of producing multiple megawatts of power. But before they’re installed in wind farms, manufacturers need to be sure they are built to last. To this end, a monstrous 2.5-MW turbine--one of the world's largest--just survived an equally big test.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.