Skip to comments.Wind turbine blimp aims to replace diesel generators
Posted on 04/20/2012 3:53:08 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
Look, up in the sky! It's a bird it's a plane it's a wind turbine? Altaeros Energies, a Massachusetts-based company formed by MIT and Harvard grads, has aimed high literally in its quest to deliver power to remote, off-the-grid locations, creating a blimp that harnesses the power of the wind at 1,000 feet up.
The prototype, seen in this video, is a large helium-filled shell that looks almost like a jet engine (or, as we suspect more than a few people thought when it was tested in Maine earlier this year, a UFO). Attached to a trailer on the ground, it automatically deploys itself 1,000 feet in the air (350 feet for its inaugural test flight) where a fan at its center is turned by the wind. At this altitude, the wind is not only stronger than at ground level, but also much steadier, resulting in twice the energy production of a traditional, pole-mounted turbine.
The electricity generated by the turbine is sent down to the trailer via the tether cables, where it can be used to power remote villages, military outposts, or anywhere that would normally have to depend on polluting diesel generators. When it's not in use, it can be automatically reeled in.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
There’s a lot of money flying around in the unharnessed wind market or so I hear.. including some of yours.. ;-]
“resulting in twice the energy production of a traditional, pole-mounted turbine.”
Would adding a pole dancer make it more competitive?
Except when the wind isn't blowing.
I don’t know what the cost of this system would be, but it does make some sense in that the blimp could be raised or lowered into wind streams.
Terra fixed turbines are at the mercy of wind conditions on the ground.
Wind is never a problem with one of these since it can be attached to a truck and pulled around.
Popular Science publishes something about this or something very like it every few years, presumably when the (alleged) brains behind this operation starts making the rounds again. “Future airborne wind turbines could spin with greater gusto in the faster winds found at high altitudes, and send power back to Earth...”
Alternative-energy firm starts testing its innovative airborne wind turbines
By Gregory Mone Posted 05.13.2008
The plot of a bad horror flick? Perhaps, but I hope the team working on the fail-safe design have such an imagination.
Now that, is some of the whitiest sarcasm I've seen in a while.
Assuming, of course, the wind is blowing. And therein lies the number one problem with wind turbines: there's no easy, cost effective, way to store the output. Solar panels have the same problem at night.
Personally I think all this "green" alternative power stuff is sorta cool. Just don't use my tax dollars to fund it.
And nobody steals the copper wiring on the ground.
In the late 70s Peabody Coal Co. had an idea to use a balloon to hold the electric cables going to the shovel. It did not last long, as the weather took it out. I expect the same to happen here.
"Betcha a beer you couldn't hit that there blimp thingy." Aims rifle.
It is cool technology. And when faced with US$20K to run power to my shack in NM, US$6K didn't seem so bad. The ROI numbers changed quickly.
As for your second point.... AMEN! NO TAX DOLLARS! SINK OR SWIM.
Solar makes sense in some cases. My shack in the mountains was one.
Here in suburbia? Oh heck no!
I couldn't make payments on a 2% loan for what I pay TXU for 'lektrikity.
I can envison one of these things break loose in high winds, continuing to generate electricity as it loses altitude and discharge its’ load on whatever(or whoever)unfortunate enough to come into contact with it’s dragging cable line.
An mobile electric chair, if you may.
I have the pleasure of operating a tethered balloon system in Afghanistan.
It won't only be when the wind isn't blowing, but, when the wind is blowing too hard.
Said balloon will have to be moored due to instability in high winds. Also, rain will cause too much of a positive pitch due to extra weight on the stabilizers, disrupting air flow through the turbine shaped balloon. Lightning in the area will necessitate the mooring also, it's a flying grounding rod. Lightning within 20 miles can be attracted by it's conductivity. The tether will have a ground in it, along with the power lines, that will provide a highly conductive electrical path at flying altitude.
The amount of flight time that will be achieved doesn't jibe well with their estimates.
The manpower needed to tend to it will offset the benefits of this intermittent source of power.
Another pipe dream.
So, the people who think a wind turbine way out offshore is an eyesore will not mind a flock of these blimps hanging over their heads?
Once you get above 1000 feet the wind tends to be steady, even if it’s calm on the ground. This sounds like a very good way to get power to off-grid locations.
>Wind is never a problem with one of these since it can be attached to a truck and pulled around.<
I can’t stop laughing.
They’ll blow up twice as often...
Seriously when the brakes fail and the generators overheat and explode they sure will allow a lot of people to experience a Hindenburg moment.
Lets not forget they will be real efficient at slicing up flying birds up there too. Falling dead birds from 1000 feet ruining roofs and windshields and possibly hitting people. Yup, no problems here.
Or when a tornado comes to town...
Having just spent an unhappy day wrestling 6 guage cable into place for a new stove brings to mind another propblem. Does the 1000 ft copper cable thick enough ot conduct the electricity that this blimp generates, without inordinate resistance losses, weigh more than the blimp can lift? But that is another minor engineering detail beyond the genius of these professors.
Conversely, the power generated by the this blimp would probably have a high voltage generator that would be reduced in voltage after it reaches the ground station. Again reducing the wire size need. The tether will probably have fiber optic cables also for telemetry return and balloon control.
The level of competency of the ground crew would need to be above average, technically, unless they train really well.
Getting back to the ground in the tether, at 1000ft, it will have more resistance than you're used to. But, again, an excellent lightning rod.
Would adding a pole dancer make it more competitive?
can we energize the pole?
Once you get above 1000 feet the wind tends to be steady, even if its calm on the ground. This sounds like a very good way to get power to off-grid locations.
Then put ground based ones on mountain tops. Would this not be the same affect?
Yes, provided there is a mountain nearby. Connecting it to the grid is pointless; the chief (perhaps only) advantage of wind and solar is that it is an economical way to deliver power to remote locations where the cost is less than the cost of connecting to the grid. I’ve seen billboards near rural highways that have solar/wind arrays because the cost of ownership is less than connecting to the hydro service.