Located on house roofs or floating 900 feet above them, from remote villages to the local industrial park, a new generation of wind turbines is expanding wind power’s reach to any home or business that wants an environmentally friendly source of electricity.
Two companies developing new wind turbines, MicroWind Technologies LLC and Magenn Power were recently cited by Jeff Ray, CEO, SolidWorks Solutions, as examples of innovators by ushering in a new generation of cost-effective wind power. They are among several SolidWorks 3D CAD software users stretching the boundaries of wind turbine designs and expanding wind power’s reach around the world.
Magenn and MicroWind confront a key obstacle to wind power’s growth; generating a steady stream of power from unpredictable winds. Burlington, Massachusetts-based MicroWind, are developing a low-cost rooftop wind turbine that can generate electricity from winds as light as 10mph. Magenn are working on a lighter-than-air wind turbine that floats 600 to 1,000 feet above the ground to catch the steady wind flows.
According to Ray, MicroWind and Magenn demonstrate the kind of thinking that will make wind power a practical, economically feasible electricity source on a large scale. The basic concept of generating power from wind has been around for centuries, but companies like MicroWind and Magenn are confronting engineering and design obstacles that have prevented it from working on a large scale.
MicroWind Technologies are the creation of entrepreneur, Michael Easton, a Tufts University-educated engineer. Easton designed the ‘residential scale’ wind turbine as part of a research project, and then started the company to develop it commercially.
In 2008, MicroWind won first place in the Hellenic Business Network competition, second place in the Tufts 50K competition and received a grant from the Compton Foundation, raising enough seed money to start the venture.
The MicroWind turbine, designed in SolidWorks 3D CAD software, features a vertical axis configuration, which means the turbine’s axle is perpendicular to the ground instead of parallel. That orientation enables the turbine to generate electricity from slow winds. Two people can install the turbine, and its simplicity reduces the chance of damage and keeps maintenance and replacements costs low.
MicroWind used SolidWorks 3D CAD software to design a simply constructed and aesthetically pleasing turbine that can fit into a residential or small business area. The MicroWind turbine produces around 50% to 75% of the electricity, which an average home uses in a year.
Scottish residential turbine developers, Windsave, another SolidWorks 3D CAD user, are developing a similar small turbine that homeowners can bolt onto their house. Like MicroWind, the Windsave turbine is designed for efficient, quiet and vibration-free operation.
Magenn approached the issue of winds from a different angle. Instead of waiting for wind to come to it, Magenn’s MARS (Magenn Air Rotor System) turbine goes to the wind. It is a 50-x-120-foot lighter-than-air device that floats 600 to 1,000 feet above the ground to catch the jet stream currents present almost everywhere. MARS rotates to generate up to 100kw per hour, then feeds it down a tether to a grid or a battery array.
According to Mac Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Magenn, SolidWorks 3D CAD software helps them in experiment with different turbine configurations, compare their power outputs, and save money spent on outsourced simulation work.
In addition to its popularity with emerging wind power companies, SolidWorks 3D CAD software has a strong presence with established wind technology companies. Dutch offshore turbine developers, Darwind, are using SolidWorks 3D CAD software to design offshore wind turbines with a patented magnet configuration that reduces up-front and maintenance costs. The British division of Ramboll Oil & Gas have used SolidWorks 3D CAD software to design the foundations that support half of the world’s offshore wind power capacity.
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