Chaska company designs wind turbine of the future

Source: By Chris Hrapsky, KARE • Posted: Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CHASKA, Minn. – Minnesota is known for farming, but a Chaska company is redefining how to harvest one of the most lucrative crops in the world – wind.

The 2012 energy startup SheerWind has developed a new-aged wind turbine system that promises more energy efficiency at roughly 75 percent of the cost of traditional turbines.

But it is the look and design of SheerWind’s INVELOX technology that’s grabbing attention.

“We are trading the speed for size,” said Daryoush Allaei, CEO and lead designer of Sheerwind. “We are just simply capturing wind and delivering to a turbine at a much better condition.”

The INVELOX design is a wind funnel with no exposed props or sky-scraping towers.

It captures wind from any direction and concentrates the power, accelerating it three to six times before passing it through a series of small enclosed turbines about three meters in diameter.

Allaei said his design can harvest energy from just two mile per hour wind speed.

He said traditional wind turbines require at least eight mile an hour wind to operate.

The covered, smaller blades prevent low-frequency vibrations and make the device virtually bird proof.

Bird proof wind power happened to be just the thing the Nature Conservancy was looking for to power its research facility on the Island of Palmyra, located one thousand miles south of Hawaii and home to stunning coral reefs and one million nesting sea birds.

“We want to produce wind energy in a place with not much wind, and oh, by the way, we can’t use the traditional turbines,” said Joe Fargione, science director for North America for the Nature Conservancy. “And they said, ‘oh we have the solution.'”

The research facility—operated by the Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—had been using biodiesel fuel for power, but that cost as much to transport as it did to use, according to Fargione.

“Because this is the middle of a national wildlife refuge with a million nesting sea birds, it was really important to have something that wasn’t going to impact the birds,” said Fargione.

They turned to Sheerwind for the hourglass-shaped wind turbine, and last month, the Conservancy installed the $1.2 million device.

This the first ever commercial deal for SheerWind, which is in the process of installing a turbine on the top of a condo building in Florida making it the largest wind-powered building in the world.

Allaei also just finished shooting a special for National Geographic on their innovative designs to air later this year.