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Invelox wind turbine claims 600% advantage in energy output

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May 10, 2013

SheerWind's Invelox wind power generation unit is said to increase energy output by 600 pe...

SheerWind's Invelox wind power generation unit is said to increase energy output by 600 percent

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SheerWind, a wind power company from Minnesota, USA, has announced the results of tests it has carried out with its new Invelox wind power generation technology. The company says that during tests its turbine could generate six times more energy than the amount produced by traditional turbines mounted on towers. Besides, the costs of producing wind energy with Invelox are lower, delivering electricity with prices that can compete with natural gas and hydropower.

Invelox takes a novel approach to wind power generation as it doesn’t rely on high wind speeds. Instead, it captures wind at any speed, even a breeze, from a portal located above ground. The wind captured is then funneled through a duct where it will pick up speed. The resulting kinetic energy will drive the generator on the ground level. By bringing the airflow from the top of the tower, it’s possible to generate more power with smaller turbine blades, SheerWind says.

As to the sixfold output claim, as with many new technologies promising a performance breakthrough, it needs to be viewed with caution. SheerWind makes the claim based on its own comparative tests, the precise methodology of which is not entirely clear.

"We used the same turbine-generator (with a given load bank) and mounted it on a tower as is the case for traditional wind mills," SheerWind told Gizmag. "We measured wind speed and power output. Then we placed the same turbine-generator system (subjected to the same load), again we measured free stream wind speed, wind speed inside the INVELOX, and power. Then we used the power-speed relationship over 5 to 15 days (depending on the test), and calculated energy in kWh. Six hundred percent more energy was for one of the days. [...] The improvements in energy production ranged from 81 percent to 660 percent, with an average of about 314 percent more energy."

All else being equal, it would seem to be the latter category that is the most useful indicator.

Besides power performance and the fact it can operate at wind speeds as low as 1 mph, SheerWind says Invelox costs less than US$750 per kilowatt to install. It is also claimed that operating costs are significantly reduced compared to traditional turbine technology. Due to its reduced size, the system is supposedly safer for birds and other wildlife, concerns that also informed the designers of the Ewicon bladeless turbine. Finally, the system also makes it possible for multiple towers to network, that is, to get power from the same generator.

Utility-scale availability of Invelox is slated for 2014.

Source: SheerWind

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology.   All articles by Antonio Pasolini
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25 Comments

Wow...but 600% is not from a reliable source

Udhaya Kumar
10th May, 2013 @ 06:46 am PDT

I think this is way better than the normal wind turbines; assuming it does what they say it does. I can see it being safer for birds since the traditional wind turbines have that problem of 'whacking' flying feathered creatures.

BigWarpGuy
10th May, 2013 @ 06:54 am PDT

Okay, this tech gets hits on at least four of my questions that trigger red flags about bogus wind tech. Like many people who pay attention to wind energy, I'm getting tired of claims like this being taken even moderately credulously.

http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/invest-carefully-wind-energy-innovations-are-rarely-kosher/

Mike Barnard
10th May, 2013 @ 07:46 am PDT

This screams bogus science.

A standard commercial windmill is roughly 40% efficient (the theoretical maximum is around 60%). If this claims that it its 300% + more efficient than that it is 120% efficient, generating 20% more power than was in the wind. Magic! Or bad science.

Also this canard about generating power from lower windspeeds is also nonsense. The amount of power available in winds below 5mph is not worth harvesting. Wind power increases with the cube of the wind speed. In other words: doubling the wind speed gives eight times the wind power. So the power difference between 5 and 10 mph winds is 800%! It makes sense to optimize for higher windspeeds, because 1 hour of 10mph is worth 8 hours of 5mph and 64 hours at 2.5mph and 512 hours at 1.25mph.

Finally, a windmill can only extract energy from the wind that contacts it, so to get the same amount of power as a 20' diameter windmill rotor, you would need a "funnel" of equivalent size. It is hard to imagine the economics of making giant massive funnels is going to be better than a slender tower and a few slender blades.

Michaelc
10th May, 2013 @ 11:04 am PDT

Michaelc, that which we can't see might hold the answers. We can't see the turbines themselves or where the venturi inlets go. Stacked turbines, each with its own supply of air compressed as it enters the inlets, might be able to achieve the stated efficiency,

Noel Frothingham
10th May, 2013 @ 12:42 pm PDT

As others have said its likely bogus or bad data, but i'm holding out hope that its real or even if the data is abit off that its still an approvment. Even if its the same as others but cheaper it would still be good.

I think its a common reaction when something that comes along that seems to good to be true, that it normaly is.

But sometimes not.

To the person who said that for it to correct there would have to be 20% more energy than whats in the wind, doesn't account for how this device uses a funnel to bring wind from a much larger area and increases the wind speed, which as he states himself multiplies the energy collected. Not saying that makes the original article right, only that i think there is room for this to theoretically be possible.

We will have to watch this and see.

Arahant
10th May, 2013 @ 12:58 pm PDT

It is a mistake to use the same sized turbine for the comparison. A proper comparison would match the effective inlet area of the duct at the top of the Invelox tower to a conventional wind turbine's inlet area.

It is also a mistake to use the exact same turbine blades. The concentrated wind speed is higher than the free stream wind speed and properly designed turbines will have an airfoil shape that has been designed optimally for the average wind speed. Since the average wind speed is different in a conventional turbine vs. a concentrating turbine like Invelox, you cannot use the same exact airfoil for comparison.

These mistakes would be acceptable at an eighth grade science fair, but where investor dollars are at stake it feels downright criminal.

BluGrass76
11th May, 2013 @ 08:03 am PDT

That someone would try to trash this idea sight unseen makes you wonder about their true motives. Looks like a great idea to me, even if it's the same efficiency.

b@man
11th May, 2013 @ 12:36 pm PDT

As it says in the article these figures need to be treated with caution. But a couple of ideas occur to me. One of the reasons it may be difficult to generate power from low wind speeds is inertia of the entire system needs to be overcome, and losses to turbulence might be more than can be generated at low speeds. But from looking at the photos, it could be that with the funnel design will increase the wind VELOCITY while not necessarily increasing the total volume of air passing through the system. It could be similar to exchanging volts for amps in electricity, where the same amount of power can be utilised in different ways. 12 volts won't jump a gap in a spark plug, but if the voltage is multiplied many times, the same amount of POWER can be used to make a spark.

Secondly, since the blades of the actual rotor would be smaller than a traditional wind turbine of equal surface area of capture, the lack of mass would mean that again, inertia would consume less of the windpower. Thus it may be theoretically possible to generate more power from the same amount of wind.

Thirdly, whilst the mouth(s) of the funnels don't move, this would mean that on "back" side of the turbine head there may be a reduction in air pressure, a vortex, which theoretically could be used to generate power by using a second generator which runs in reverse. Crudely, it might use "suck" wind instead of "blow" wind.

Whilst I treat the 600%, or even 300% figures with caution, I'll say that this device may have more going for it than appears at first glance. I'll wait and see.

Joe Blake
11th May, 2013 @ 05:51 pm PDT

I live in a "Low Wind" country. This method of funneling the wind so that low wind speed can also be used to drive generators means that there is much more generating time available. I like it.

Nantha
12th May, 2013 @ 07:13 pm PDT

Hmmm..... a spokesperson for this company refers to wind turbines as "windmills"? No - that's a definite "red flag" - set B.S. filters to maximum, captain.

Pat O'Leary
13th May, 2013 @ 04:17 am PDT

Remember the PC Game, Dune 2?

Wind traps!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/78/Dune2_BOD.jpg/225px-Dune2_BOD.jpg

Edgar Castelo
13th May, 2013 @ 05:54 am PDT

This needs an independent testing lab to do comparison studies.

ezeflyer
13th May, 2013 @ 09:44 am PDT

As a spokesmen for raptors, take down those blades Mr. Gorbachev.

The wind turbines described can be erected anywhere the wind blows and the sun don't shine. But the grid will be an ugly memory, time to get energy independent before the birds declare war on those who supply the grid.

Dear energy managers it was nice knowing you, past tense imperative.

Got sulfur?

Patrick McGean
13th May, 2013 @ 11:14 am PDT

From a structural standpoint I think the framework is kind of funky, but a commerical unit could easily be adapted from an old water tower either as a retrofit (maybe) or as new construction. It does have the benefit of gathering the wind high, and having the generator on the ground where it is easier to service. That, by the way, is HUGE. Sure, a claim of 600% gain is suspect, but that is admittedly the top of the range, with 81% being the low. There may be some potential here, and it will be interesting to see how it scales up.

Bruce H. Anderson
13th May, 2013 @ 11:34 am PDT

The thing to do is to forget about these claims of X% increase in efficiency stuff where you basically see claims of apples being compared to oranges. These are VERY different means of capturing the energy of the wind, so there's no single, accurate way to measure the efficiency of either system. And you can't use some fiat currency unit as a base line due to the constantly downward drifting perceived purchasing power of the fiat currency(KWh per USD times T), but maybe you could use number of hours on line v. offline. Or barrels of oil not burned v. burned in making each system.

In other words, there are just too many factors that MUST be considered for any debate to take place on a rational level. Pepsi v. Coke, Ford v. Chevy, etc. ad infinitum is all that this is. The market will decide who lives and who dies.

Randy

Expanded Viewpoint
13th May, 2013 @ 12:50 pm PDT

b@man wonders about the true motives of the detractors... he'd better wonder about the hidden motives of the promoters!

To me, this looks very much like Big Oil seeking to cast doubt among potential investors in top performing HAWT projects...

euroflycars
13th May, 2013 @ 12:57 pm PDT

I see very little about the generator, which I believe is the most important element to any wind generator. When I see variable flux magnetic fields, then I will be paying more attention.

Seilertechco
13th May, 2013 @ 06:17 pm PDT

It's weird to come to a technology blog and see people so SO resistant to new technology. Since the standard three blade design is really only designed to be efficient at a narrow speed range, I can see this beating the pants off it at other speeds - certainly in places with nearly constant high wind speeds (like the Columbia Gorge) the old design will beat the pants off these - but just like you wouldn't put swamp truck tires on your Prius, I think this design has several potential uses: in urban areas, where blade hazards are a concern (and where these could turn into functional art) in tornado zones (where you want to be able to be able to protect sensitive parts, perhaps with a remote operated hatch) and in regions with gusty wind (like Colorado near the mountains) where you could capture energy before the angular momentum and drag of huge blades prevented it.

In addition, this opens the door to other turbine technologies, like more efficient (but hard to air mount) Tesla turbines. That's certainly a good thing.

Charles Bosse
13th May, 2013 @ 07:56 pm PDT

Hmmm...no one seems to have asked the question: "what happens if the wind is coming from the same direction as the turbine outlet? I'd imagine there would net zero pressure gradient between the "inlet" of the funnel and the "outlet" of the turbine...with the exception of may a minute amount due to the higher wind velocities at the inlet as it is farther from the ground. If this works it would be analogous to aiming a fan at your own sail to try to go faster.

sk8dad
13th May, 2013 @ 10:22 pm PDT

I saw some micro-turbines a few years ago, which were designed to be configurable into many different configurations. Each turbine (about 6" diameter) was only good for about 1W max

One benefit is that these tiny turbines had very low inertia etc, so they are more efficient at lower speeds.

But it was more about that you could do cool things with them ...

e.g. Create advertising billboard, using different coloured turbines as 'pixels'. A 10m by 10m board could hold 10 000 turbines for potentially 10kW power if aligned optimally.

e.g. fit them into air ventilation ducts within a building, etc, to harvest energy from air flowing through these ducts (e.g. escaping waste heat)

Haven't heard any more about them .... anyone else??

Nickov8
14th May, 2013 @ 04:04 am PDT

I can see how it might generate 20% more power than the wind. With proper sails and technique, a sailboat can sail twice the speed of the wind, and Iceboats can typically sail at five times the speed of the wind. Could it be there is a bit of "sailboat" magic inside these devices? I think it's time SheerWind gave it's new machine to an independent agency for testing. We wouldn't want this to turn into another "Andrea Rossi" ("cold fusion device") fiasco, would we?

WagTheDog
17th May, 2013 @ 03:31 am PDT

Even if they can change Betz assumptions (stall or static wind pressure) and force hydrodynamic effects to come into play they are still in a surface area game (bigger is more...)

Like mounting an 'umbrella' mill turbine to the top of a pyramid making it unidirectional and partly solar convection driven - what assumptions have changed? The area of the turbine itself is small, but the 'windcatch' is large- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windcatcher

Kwazai
24th May, 2013 @ 07:21 am PDT

Michaelc said it.

There are known physical limitations to these things. Its is simply lies. I am willing to bet $5000 that this thing will never see broad manufacturing - and no its not because of conspiracies.

Kent Risine
1st August, 2013 @ 08:43 am PDT

Michaelc, don't be such a pessimist..when comparing those one propellers on a stick to nuclear energy, is like swatting flies for the far right's "I don't don't see no Ice melting"....let's give all innovation a chance, in this time....we did in the 1970's when we created those 'one propellas on a stick...now we don't feel like creating anything else....???

Michael Hoggard
16th January, 2014 @ 10:00 am PST
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