The dramatic vista of noisy wind farms featuring towers that go the length of a football field will soon change, if John R. Tuttle has any say about the matter. “We’re nearing the end of that road,” says this engineer and inventor, who has multiple patents pending for his direct conversion wind-to-electricity system known as the Windpipe.
The most remarkable detail about this simple mechanism is that has no visible moving parts – only a hollow pipe with a configured nozzle that draws wind down its length, then converting it to electricity. The Windpipe requires no propellers, turbines, or rotating machinery. And unlike numerous propeller-driven towers, does not stop generating electricity when the wind velocity reaches higher than 55 miles per hour.
If all components involved in redrafting part of this wind energy infrastructure come into place, the landscape of the wind-to-energy business may go through a dramatic transformation. It stands to reason why this mechanism has generated such interest. As such, Mr. Tuttle and his team have attracted attention from some leading venture capital firms – unnamed here for reasons of due diligence.
Unlike the traditional vertical tower that features three blades, Tuttle’s system is horizontal. To visualize, each component – virtually a long box containing a long, hollow tube – measures eight feet by eight feet square and runs a length of 40 feet. The size is similar to that of a shipping container, a practical detail when the systems is installed at a remote location.
“Our concept is that you can build that array on site,” says Tuttle. The array he mentions can be constructed in a stackable fashion, one container on top of another, and laterally, as well.
When first-phase funding is in place to build the first demonstration Windpipe system, Tuttle believes it will probably be constructed at the Golden, CO-based National Center for Renewable Energy test farm.
Tuttle is mum on exactly how a windpipe works, other than to state the pipe converts vibrations into electrical energy, adding the unequivocal formula, “energy is equal to velocity cubed.” There is a certain promise behind this formula, especially when the invention has almost no moving parts.