A sycamore seed design may be set to revolutionize the wind power industry.
British engineers have designed a giant wind turbine called the Aerogenerator that would rotate on its axis mimicking the way sycamore seeds fly.
The Aerogenerator has two arms coming out of its base to form a V-shape, with rigid “sails” mounted along their length. The arms act like aerofoils as the wind passes over, helping to generate lift.
It would measure nearly 900 feet from tip to tip and could generate 20MW or more of power.
Engineering firm Wind Power Limited is developing the Aerogenerator, along with architects at Grimshaw, academics at Cranfield University and Rolls Royce, Arup, BP and Shell.
The first Aerogenerator could be up and running by 2013.
Feargal Brennan, head of offshore engineering at Cranfield University, says “Upsizing conventional onshore wind turbine technology to overcome cost barriers has significant challenges, not least the weight of the blades, which experience a fully reversed fatigue cycle on each rotation.”
“As the blades turn, their weight always pulls downwards, putting a changing stress on the structure, in a cycle that repeats with every rotation – up to 20 times a minute.”
“In order to reduce the fatigue stress, the blade sections and thicknesses are increased which further increases the blade self-weight. These issues continue throughout the device.”
“Drive-train mountings must be stiff enough to support the heavier components inside the nacelle on top of the tower, otherwise the systems can become misaligned and the support structure is also exposed to extremely large dynamic thrust and bending stresses, which are amplified significantly with any increase in water depth.’”