Skip to main content

Electrical engineers all over the country must be slapping themselves in the forehead in a "Why didn't I think of that?" moment after the announcement of an elegant high-tech fix for a persistent wind energy efficiency problem that has plagued the electric wind turbine industry and retarded the growth of wind farms. The story is here of an ingenious design that, in effect, replaces heavy, breakdown-prone and expensive wind turbine transmission systems with small, light weight computer controlled electronic circuits while increasing efficiency and maximum output at the same time. The story in MIT's Technology Review put it thus:

The generator works on the same principles as many ordinary generators: magnets attached to a rotating shaft create a current as they pass stationary copper coils arrayed around the shaft. In ordinary generators, all of the coils are wired together. In ExRo's generator, in contrast, the individual coils can be turned on and off with electronic switches. At low wind speeds, only a few of the coils will switch on--just enough to efficiently harvest the small amount of energy in low-speed wind. (If more coils were active, they would provide more resistance to the revolving magnets.) At higher wind speeds, more coils will turn on to convert more energy into electricity.

Conventional generators operate at optimum efficiency only at a particular speed, with efficiency dropping off rapidly as that speed increases or decreases. This has always been a problem for wind farms and has been addressed with mechanical transmissions to mediate turbine speed and variable pitch technology for the wind foils, all adding weight, complexity and expense to the design. The new generators will still need variable pitch, but the design totally eliminates transmissions and allows the turbine to operate at ambient wind speeds and remain efficient.

After the fact the new variable speed generator design almost seems obvious, given the physics, but nobody else apparently thought of it first, particularly the big players like Siemans, GE and Westinghouse. Regardless, lighter weight, less mechanically complex, easier to maintain, more efficient and higher output wind turbines look like a heck of a breakthrough.  

Wow, Rec List. 1st trip. Thanks. The story is a little old and the design shows no sign yet of a market breakthrough, but it clearly illustrates the potential for clever ideas to help us accellerate our abandonment of coal and nuclear for generating electricity.  

Originally posted to LeftOfYou on Tue Dec 27, 2011 at 08:21 AM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Nuclear Free DK, and Kosowatt.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, Pat K California, GainesT1958, Thumb, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, Ed in Montana, Angie in WA State, DeminNewJ, nofundy, northsylvania, RF, ROGNM, Chi, filkertom, LouisMartin, itsbenj, Brainwrap, murphy, melo, teacherken, DawnG, Trendar, glitterscale, importer, Nina Katarina, Gooserock, Danno11, madmsf, mimi, PeterHug, wytcld, newjeffct, michael in chicago, Shockwave, intrados, Andrew C White, chuco35, tacet, mntleo2, hyperstation, jdld, eeff, Pompatus, Woody, red moon dog, jancw, davelf2, portermason, Gustogirl, opinionated, concernedamerican, bronte17, missLotus, Babsnc, fugwb, whenwego, Ian S, KMc, Bionic, tmmike, mkfarkus, roses, pedrito, ovals49, ivote2004, retLT, jennifree2bme, Cedwyn, Chrisfs, tomephil, scorpiorising, psnyder, danthrax, Dallasdoc, figbash, pat bunny, virginislandsguy, brainwave, chriscol, yet another liberal, HeyMikey, laughingriver, DSC on the Plateau, defluxion10, joliberal, RuralLiberal, chickeee, riverlover, BlogDog, inclusiveheart, bcashncali, OneCharmingBastard, AllisonInSeattle, Sembtex, randallt, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, Wife of Bath, jcrit, bablhous, vacantlook, Josiah Bartlett, oortdust, Crazycab214, redstater, ExStr8, jabney, maybeeso in michigan, radarlady, Tinfoil Hat, jrooth, Ckntfld, UncleCharlie, jiffypop, unclejohn, chimene, OpherGopher, PBen, Flint, citizenx, drewfromct, Laurence Lewis, Kevskos, fixxit, bleeding blue, majcmb1, jimstaro, GreyHawk, lotlizard, Ozzie, minidriver, sodalis, bunsk, CentralMass, Alan Arizona, xaxnar, Jim R, martini, third Party please, Showman, Shirl In Idaho, BachFan, Orinoco, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Milly Watt, BlueInARedState, tobendaro, Ky DEM, Russgirl, dopper0189, HoundDog, koNko, ruleoflaw, Patriot4peace, sleipner, KenBee, deha, Magnifico, fou, Lefty Coaster, SherriG, NBBooks, gpoutney, gatorcog, paul2port, real world chick, plf515, oxley, hlsmlane, SingerInTheChoir, bajadudes, Unknown Quantity, democracy is coming, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, BB10, joelado, blueoregon, Statusquomustgo, TransAmerican, bstotts, Friend of the court, Little, OHdog, Thinking Fella, ladypockt, clinging to hope, pgm 01, john07801, out of left field, bluicebank, high coup haiku, asilomar, dotsright, Cronesense, Mr K, Ageing Hippie, leema, ColoTim, offgrid, crankyinNYC, BruceMcF, Wino, SJLeonidas, Jimdotz, terabytes, certainot, deepeco, rkelley25, bnasley, artisan, US Blues, letsgetreal, millwood, jhop7, OIL GUY, pioneer111, Wreck Smurfy, GeorgeXVIII, janatallow, spearfish, Don midwest, aseth, Assaf, vet, TomP, rmonroe, Zacapoet, bkamr, mayrose, jack 1966, TX Freethinker, wayoutinthestix, OleHippieChick, Involuntary Exile, wade norris, Sharon Wraight, Akonitum, Its any one guess, VL Baker, jamess, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, tofumagoo, jobu, Jake Williams, carver, ashowboat, venger, My Spin, slathe, briefer, ekyprogressive, Mike Taylor, SolarMom, lissablack, jlms qkw, legendmn, Celtic Merlin, satanicpanic, 207wickedgood, maggiejean, Bule Betawi, pileta, Ran3dy, WhizKid331, cybrestrike, J M F, Fogiv, matmak, banjolele, Mislead, janmtairy, mkor7, CamillesDad1, EquationDoc, petral, geebeebee, TheOpinionGuy, asym, Keith Pickering, stevenwag, sfarkash, maxzj05, jfromga, nancat357, Livvy5, citisven, Leftcandid, Railfan, Amber6541, henlesloop, FogCityJohn, icemilkcoffee, eb23, Polly Syllabic, ItsSimpleSimon, SoCalHobbit, anonevent, DiegoUK, NYWheeler, IQof20, rja, elengul, cocinero, leu2500, nosleep4u, soaglow, Mac in Maine, Reetz, annieli, Maximilien Robespierre, Bluefin, ozsea1, bgblcklab1, sostos, jm214, BillyElliott, FarWestGirl, kevin k, California06, SoCaliana, Alice Olson, Mr Green Jeans, trumpeter, Haf2Read, marleycat, zukesgirl64, thomask, Muskegon Critic, BarackStarObama, Sark Svemes, enhydra lutris, Tyto Alba, sound of progress, poliwrangler, Caddis Fly, disconnect the dots, Euell P Yourpanz, diffrntdrummr, Marihilda, Vatexia, Hayate Yagami, Miggles, leftykook, DRo, Mentatmark, DEMonrat ankle biter, PrometheusUnbound, too young to give up, No one gets out alive, DawnN, IowaBiologist, stormicats, gnostradamus, RhodaA, IndieGuy, Trevin, Joieau, 2thanks, FreeSpeaker, Evolutionary, CA ridebalanced, swedepi, orange dog, Tyler R, Syoho, TBug, BusyinCA, Canines and Crocodiles, ricklewsive, tytalus, Vote4Obamain2012, AverageJoe42, artmanfromcanuckistan, Marjmar, John Kelly, Knute Heimdall, GoGoGoEverton, GboGbo, John Crapper, DamselleFly, Dallas L, 6ZONite, ocschwar, Eric Twocents, Setsuna Mudo, dhcallahan, cntrdlt

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site