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Virtually silent, fully enclosed, bladeless wind turbines on the way

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May 6, 2010

Virtually silent, fully enclosed, bladeless wind turbines on the way

Virtually silent, fully enclosed, bladeless wind turbines on the way

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A wind turbine that uses boundary layers instead of blades to generate power has been patented by Solar Aero, a New Hampshire based not-for-profit scientific research organization. Modeled on the 1913 Tesla steam turbine, the Fuller turbine is virtually silent and completely enclosed, which avoids many of the drawbacks of bladed turbines such as noise, radar interference, visual pollution and wildlife injuries.

Solar Aero's Howard Fuller says the principal of operation is roughly the same as for the Tesla steam turbine.

"Closely-spaced discs trap the motive fluid molecules (in this case air) in a laminar flow adjacent to the disc surface. This provides aerodynamic drag, which imparts force to the disc surface. By using multiple discs, the turbine then provides considerable torque to accelerate the rotation of the central driveshaft, which is directly coupled to an alternator, typically located at the base of a tower, or alternatively co-located on a rooftop."

The turbine is likely to have a cut-in speed of about 3.5 knots and optimum speed is about 20 knots and near transparency to radar microwave transmissions can be achieved with proper construction materials and techniques.

Virtually silent, fully enclosed, bladeless wind turbines on the way

Although currently only in pre-prototype stage, it is anticipated that units would be available in different sizes. The smallest unit would be likely to produce about 5kW at 15 knots.

Solar Aero expects costs to be comparable to coal-fired power generation - around $0.05/kWh. When used in conjunction with a suitable storage device, this should provide reliable, inexpensive power in either residential or commercial applications.

Maintenance costs should be less than for bladed turbines. As the up-tower turbine is supported solely on zero maintenance magnetic bearings, there will be no friction to impede acceleration and no routine lubrication required.

Solar Aero is currently completing a full scale prototype. The design will be available for worldwide production licensing following testing.

Contact Solar Aero for further information.

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21 Comments

Is that picture of a bladed-centrifugal system an actual picture of the "bladeless" design? I though the Tesla system had a series of closely spaced discs that began to turn with water or air flowing between the discs on the adherent boundary layer.

It will be interesting to see what power this produces at low wind speeds... which may be it's drawback vs. lightweight bladed designs.

matthew.rings
6th May, 2010 @ 07:03 pm PDT

The neat thing about this design is that you could enhance the turbine's efficiency by using cheap, adjustable sails to focus wind into the intake.

jimbo92107
6th May, 2010 @ 08:38 pm PDT

Yet another breakthrough in Wind Energy Technology.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Dr.A.Jagadeesh
6th May, 2010 @ 11:40 pm PDT

The beauty and downfall of many patents is that you don't need to prove that something works well or even at all in order to be granted a patent. You just have to prove that nobody has patented it before. This design has so many problems and this is nothing more than a reprinted press release. A design that relies on drag like this one is always less efficient than a lift design. The faster it turns, the less drag it has until in theory, if it can reach the actual wind speed (which is impossible), it has no drag. Such a slow-turning turbine will need multistage gearing to step up the RPM to drive an electric generator at optimum speed. Gears always reduce efficiency. Magnetic bearings don't work well at such low RPMs, either. That mesh grill over the inlet to exclude wildlife will create turbulence, which will reduce efficiency even more. The bare bones website providing no details at all is a dead giveaway that this is a one-man operation.

Gadgeteer
7th May, 2010 @ 12:06 am PDT

Can you say scam? There is no way this unit shown can make any useful power for it's size, weight, cost.

Nor is the one shown a Tesla Turbine which is even less eff. The people who do these kind of things should be put in jail for fraud.

jerryd
7th May, 2010 @ 12:23 pm PDT

Years ago I build a small 4 inch Tesla turbine. As an air motor.This was not balanced, no need.

It was veryquiet & smooth running. The only drawback was the lack of torque.

On 70 PSI air pressure the RPMS were about 15000, very quick.

The Solar Aero looks very interesting & I hope it comes to market.

kiwi

John M
7th May, 2010 @ 01:45 pm PDT

matthew.rings,

That's not a centrifugal turbine. First, if you look at what you assume are blades, they're pointed in the wrong direction -- inward, not outward. Second, if you go read the patent at uspto.gov, you can see that the air flows from the right in this drawing and through the airfoil-shaped spacers which you believe are blades. Once through the short spacers, they pass over the disks to the central opening and out through the exhaust on the left. Still a bad design that I don't think will work. The patent files are full of "innovative" wind turbine designs that have never panned out. Their functional problems are obvious, but again, the patent examiner's job is not to decide whether an invention will work, just whether it's novel and unobvious.

jimbo,

Research in the 1970s and 1980s showed that concentrator intake ducts don't really work. Wind just backs up and goes around them. Diffuser exhaust ducts work much better.

Gadgeteer
8th May, 2010 @ 02:06 am PDT

I am sure as with all mechanical devices there are drawbacks. If this turbine is based on a Tesla model it has a good chance of working. Tesla was an absolute genius, hundreds of things that exist today are here only because of Tesla. One man did change the world, maybe this one can also. Good luck to his and his turbine.

Acuma
8th May, 2010 @ 03:46 am PDT

If this has a good chance of working, why hasn't the Tesla steam turbine taken over in the nearly 100 years it's been around? Tesla had some good ideas. He also had some bad ones. Nobody's perfect. Remember the words of another inventive genius, one Thomas Edison. When asked about all his failed experiments (before he was able to make a working light bulb), he said, "Results? Why, I have plenty of results. I know of 10,000 things that will not work!" Edison was well aware that he didn't know everything.

Gadgeteer
9th May, 2010 @ 09:02 am PDT

Wonder if this can be grid-tied, like solar?

TypeDr
9th May, 2010 @ 12:56 pm PDT

RE: Edison. Yes he didn't know everything, and I don't believe he invented everything. He had a team of people working for him , and he put his name on all the ideas. Same thing with Dyson , and Trevor Bayliss

windykites1
10th May, 2010 @ 09:40 am PDT

"same cost as coal fired" yeah sure, for 18 percent of the time if you're optimistic.

Nameplate power generation for wind is a scam.

William Blackburn
13th May, 2010 @ 12:08 am PDT

Personally, I'm not convinced this will be very useful. Aerodynamic drag just doesn't seem to be a very efficient means of generating energy. One not only needs a certain amount of RPM to effectively run a generator; one also needs some torque, which I don't see coming from this design.

BoilingOil
13th May, 2010 @ 01:38 pm PDT

5KWs at 15 knots??? I assume this is asking too much but at what wind speed does it start generating energy and at what level? At 2 MPH is it zero?

Wwhen I hear 5 cents a KW I am always intrigued. Of course you never hear how they get that number.

froginapot
19th May, 2010 @ 08:20 am PDT

What a rip off! All they have done is repackage Tesla' patent and called it their own. On checking the 2 patents I don't believe it is a unique invention. Tesla invented this method of generating power/pumping water, so why can this company now use "HIS" invention without paying Tesla descendants their proper dues.

Look Mr Tesla began the best way to generate power from waterfalls, and this design was a working principle to make it more efficient on future projects. But because he started looking at ways of generating power on home by home methods the backers J P Morgan etc did not back him any further as Tesla@ new ideas were not good for their profits but good for the people.

Pablo9176
23rd May, 2010 @ 06:54 pm PDT

Pablo,

Even if it's absolute identical to Tesla's patent, his descendants can't get any money. One of the fundamental tenets of the patent system is that a patent only provides protection for a limited time period, currently 20 years in the US. After that, it becomes available to everybody. At best, if your claim was true, the new patent should not have been granted because there was nothing novel, but his family would still be entitled to nothing.

Gadgeteer
27th June, 2010 @ 07:24 am PDT

Testla himself would be 100% behind this guy.

I don't se any of the naysayers here contributing constructive ideas to the problem.

I think jimbo9210 has a great point. Add sails. In addition, make the enclosure out of solar cells. There are many flexible solar cell technologies that can make use of the enclosure surface which is likely also exposed to the sun. 2 birds 1 stone.

I for one would put one of these up on the roof of my house in a heartbeat.

RobPez
10th July, 2010 @ 02:15 pm PDT

Yeah, Tesla's descendants would definitely not get any money, considering they don't exist. He died a virgin.

And to add to windykites comment, Edison was not an inventor, he was an entrepreneur. The only thing he personally invented, the magnetic ore separator, never worked properly.

Oh wait, I forgot that he inadvertently invented Hollywood, for the entire burgeoning film industry moved from NY to Cali just to get away from him because he was such an ass to work with.

Blixdevil
30th November, 2010 @ 07:39 am PST

Teslas versions were 20ga nickel 'silver' (stainless steel ). they tended to come apart when run too fast. the torque issue in the tesla patents is 20ga thick washers as spacers/connectors. It worked by taking turbulent flow at high pressure and exhausting it spirally inwards to some laminar flow - like most turbines. steam condensing in the process. the 20ga. gap was from airplane airfoil design-turbulent surface friction factor- teslas turbine(60psi+/-) wont work laminar flow regimes- hence current blade technology for turbines.

As a pump Tesla Turbine design is reversed laminar flow is accelerated up to turbulent- kind of like holding a garden hose up, one end in the bucket at your feet and swinging it over head to pump water-with a nozzle.

Most wind power given betz assumptions is more an area based math.

The air stacks up behind the turbine at the 'stall' pressure. Could always make a complete vacuum behind the wind turbine and get 14.7+/-.(sic). NASA kite theory pages make more sense to me for wind.

with the materials its made of and the diameter .this one might make a good solar (50psi) steam genny. 18deg tangent on the penberthy injector?

Kwazai
8th December, 2012 @ 06:23 am PST

Looks like the company failed since its website is gone and there's no further information about it to be found after this May 2010 announcement.

Billy Allen
4th May, 2014 @ 10:48 am PDT

@ Blixdevil

He also invented the industrial laboratory. And telling an employee to build something to a specific design does not mean that you didn't invent it.

Slowburn
27th June, 2014 @ 01:53 am PDT
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