There is nothing quite as inspiring as a great idea. With this in mind, we were happy to submit our idea to GE’s Ecomagination Challenge where they will examine thousands of innovative ways for powering the grid.
We encourage all readers to go take a look at some remarkably fresh approaches to powering and managing the grid. And applause to General Electric and the sponsors supporting this contest, as this is how we will advance toward the development of a saner and more sustainable world.
The joint submission from John Tuttle, president of Windpipe Corporation, and myself is as follows:
Highway & Traffic Wind Energy Recycling System Using a Bladeless Wind-to-Electricity Generation System
Summary: Heavily trafficked stretches of Interstate highway create megawatts of lost wind power daily from passing vehicles. We will capture, convert, store, and recycle wind from this traffic into usable power, feeding it back to the grid or fueling stations that can power electric or hybrid vehicles creating the bypass wind.
The Idea: If a stranded motorist has ever stood on the edge of a busy highway they recall a place where the wind gusts from passing vehicles swirled powerfully. This very roadside happens to be a reservoir of lost wind energy, which can be captured as raw energy and converted to electrical power, and then distributed to the grid. Put in practical terms for the 21st century, such a highway sporting numerous electric-powered vehicles, is capable of producing its own roadside recharging stations where motorists to take a driving break while their car gets juiced up.
The Solution: In an era of diminishing energy supplies, now is an ideal time to capture lost wind energy, by converting, or recycling that energy into useable AC power. Such captured power can be fed to utilities, homes, or fueling stations that serve some of the very vehicles creating these bypass winds.
Available technologies: There are three basic types of wind-to-electricity technologies that might be used for roadside wind capture: horizontal-axis blade-driven turbines, vertical-axis blade-driven turbines, and a newer bladeless technology that uses resonance to convert wind to electricity (Windpipe, Inc. U.S. Provisional Patent App. No. 61/226,950 filed July 20, 2009, titled “Improved methods and systems for generating electrical energy from wind energy,” and International Utility Conversion: 7062-00100).
Windpipe uses non-linear feedback to amplify the percentage of Vortex Energy from Total flow Energy, leading to surprisingly high overall conversion efficiency.
The period of Vortex generation locks to the transit time of the pressure waves in the pipe, while the vortex generation acts as a reciprocating piston, launching pressure wave fronts down the pipe, applying dynamic pressure to the flexible diaphragm at the closed end of the tube, providing mechanical motion to another dynamical system, which can be a linear alternator, fluid pump, or both.
The engine is based on a principle from Fluid Dynamics: Bluff Object Vortex Induced Vibration (VIV) with Coupled Mode Flutter to a Second Order System – in WindPipe’s case, a standing wave tube where the resulting mechanical motion at the closed end is converted to electricity, pump action, explosion or both.
Because horizontal and vertical wind turbines are large, noisy and potentially dangerous in locales where people travel, we believe the Windpipe technology provides the soundest technology to test multiple applications of wind-to-energy in developing a viable and cost-effective wind to electricity capture and distribution infrastructure.
Bladeless system advantages:
- Uses an array of lightweight horizontal pipes, reducing transportation costs
- Harvests wind power at higher wind speeds (Regions 3 and 4)
- Is harmless to birds & bats
- Linear motor motion has a lifetime of over 60 yrs, with minimal bearing wear
- Produces power at a cost of 0.5¢ to 1¢/kWh
- Equipment easy to access & maintain
Control of highway wind turbulence: We believe the use of attractively designed chutes and foils will be important in the system design in order to best manage potential wind turbulence.
Collaborators: Glenn Meyers, storyteller and founder of Green Streets, envisioned a wind recycling system that could convert displaced highway wind energy to electricity. John Tuttle, a leading patent holder in the RFID space, invented the Windpipe, a bladeless wind-to-electricity generation system.
It has been an honor working with John Tuttle on this endeavor. Congratulations, also, to the many worthy entrants in the Challenge.