The Enerzeppelin

10 September 2008 at 22:50 | Posted in Energy Farm, Green Energy, Green Initiatives, Inventions, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy, Wind Power | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

Wind tends to happen more higher up in the sky. You can build a windmill on a tall pole to capture the wind and generate electricity, but that means that you have a fixed location that needs extensive preparation, and the windmill is not going away for many years, so a lot of planning is required.

But what if we could launch a windmill that would capture the winds at the same height as commercial windmills, but could be packed up in an hour or less, and be redeployed elsewhere?

Enter the “Enerzeppelin”. The Enerzeppelin could be manufactured in different sizes, and in different configurations, depending on requirements and what investment people would want to make.

The basic concept is that of a zeppelin-shaped gas balloon, with, depending on windtunnel and practical research results, either a tunnel lenghtwise through its center which would be fitted with one or more power-generating windmills, or several windmills deployed on a frame underneath or around the zeppelin, or both. The total number and wind-generating surface area of windmills deployable would depend on calculations and testing, and could vary depending on local conditions.

In addition to the windmills, the upper surface of the zeppelin would be fitted with solar cells, to capture the rays of the sun. These cells would either need to be of flexible construction, or have sufficient space between them to allow for the zeppelin to be folded away for storage without breaking them. In some circumstances, such as where the Enerzeppelin will be redeployed and moved frequently, it may be more economical in terms of price/performance to mainly focus on the windmills, and not fit the solar cells.

The overall concept would be as follows: the Enerzeppelin is deployed from either a building, a truck, a van, the bed of a pickup-truck, a trailer, or a (wheeled) crate, depending on its size. Where useful, the vehicles should be custom-adapted for the Enerzeppelin, to enable practical and quick launching and recovery. The larger versions of the Enerzeppelin would need to be anchored to a fixed object such as a building, whereas smaller versions, depending on wind conditions, could be anchored to a vehicle. In some locations, where this is easily possible, the vehicle could be fitted with inflatable ballast tanks, which could be filled with water pumped from streams or lakes with a handheld electrical pump, to provide extra anchoring security.

For city use, a new anchoring system could be developed whereby a sewage drain is used for anchoring, by means of an expandable metal anchor being lowered into it, and expanded at the bottom (opening umbrella idea), which would lock it into place. Similarly, anchors could be developed to wrap around the base of light poles.

Due to the cost of the gas to fill it with (hot-air versions, heated by solar power perhaps, could also be researched), there will be a minimum deployment period for the Enerzeppelin, below which it is uneconomical to use it, unless it were not deflated but simply towed, or parked atop a vehicle, for transport to its next deployment location.

The gas to fill the Enerzeppelin with could either be hydrogen (which is cheaper, but flammable) or helium, which is more costly.

The Enerzeppelin could be deployed permanently on some sites, although this would typically be remote sites such as farms, or remote industrial areas which are not subject to intervention from neighbours. Oil rigs out at sea could be equipped with them, and they could be used to power remote outposts of any kind. They could be deployed from ships or barges at anchor, and smaller versions, particularly if they were lifted using hot air, could be deployed to power small villages or individual homes or businesses in third world countries, or generally in remote locations anywhere on the planet.

The vehicle the Enerzeppelin is deployed from would be equipped with batteries to store the power generated, and/or a system to feed the power into the grid or into direct usage. More advanced versions could use the power to generate oxygen and hydrogen from water, which could be used for energy generation using fuel cells, or the hydrogen could be used to keep the Enerzeppelin afloat. The latter would be very useful in third-world countries, as gas would be difficult to source commercially there, provided there is river water or similar to use.

Enerzeppelins could be used to power events at remote locations, such as pop concerts, and they would also be useful in places where there is a sudden demand for power but no supply, such as disaster zones. Their easy portability in custom-designed vehicles or crates would make it easy for them to be dropped into disaster zones by helicopter. A small model should be able to power a set of freezers or fridges, as well as lights.

The wire with which the Enerzeppelin is tethered could be equipped with a number of Wiremills (see my separate post), to generate additional energy, provided the weight of the Wiremills is not too great.

The concept of the Enerzeppelin is valuable because it will be readily deployable in any location globally where there is sufficient wind to generate electricity (the wind does not have to be strong, as the Enerzeppelin is attached to batteries, which will fill up over time regardless of wind speed).

In areas where there is permanent wind, instead of a zeppelin-type balloon, a kite or glider could be used, which would do away with the requirement for the gas to keep it aloft. This would operate under the same principle.

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

Disclaimer: Any trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
All usage of this site is entirely at users risk.

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The Wiremill

10 September 2008 at 22:44 | Posted in Energy Farm, Green Energy, Green Initiatives, Inventions, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy, Wind Power | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

The Wiremill is a small to medium-sized power-generating windmill that could be deployed on wires or poles.

Rather than having a set of blades spinning, the whole device (casing) spins around a fixed centre, which houses a dynamo-type power generation device. The principle is similar to wind-driven ventilators that are fitted to roofs or sometimes vans or buses.

Wiremills could be made in different shapes or sizes, and could be coloured to blend in with the surroundings. They could be fitted for permanent use, or models could be developed that could “clip on” to poles, wires or cables. Multiple Wiremills could be used above each other.

A special model could be developed to fit the top of flagpoles or masts, for permanent use.

Wiremills could be deployed on masts that hold up equipment on top of buildings, on flagpoles, on bridges equipped with cables or wires, or “forests” of masts with wiremills could be specifically “planted” atop buildings or on open terrain in the city and elsewhere.

The main purpose of the wiremill is to generate some extra power, simply because there is an unused wire or pole nearby so why not use it. In large numbers, the wiremills could contribute significantly to power generation.

The idea is that the wiremill is to be made from cheap materials, including recycled metals, and be designed so that it can be quickly deployed to wires, cables and poles of different sizes.

Power cables should be attached by means of a plug system (like one plugs a headphone into a music player) so that wiring can be done quickly.

The product range should include different “base stations” where power is collected in batteries and/or standardized for supply to the grid.

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

Disclaimer: Any trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
All usage of this site is entirely at users risk.

WST (Wind Solar Tide) Energy Generating Floats

29 August 2008 at 10:48 | Posted in Energy Farm, Energy Float, Green Energy, Green Initiatives, Inventions, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Solar Power, Tidal Energy, Wind Energy, Wind Power | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

We have an energy crisis. Yet often, large spaces usable for energy generation remain unused for the purpose.

Take water surfaces: in many cases, large bodies of water such as lakes may have some shoreline activity (beaches for sunbathing and a bit of swimming), and perhaps a few recreational sailing boats on them, but remain largely unused for any other purposes: wasted space!

And even if there is commercial shipping, these ships would only use lanes to get from A to B, and not require the whole lake surface.

Enter the WST Float (with WST standing for Wind Solar Tide). This device would be constructed as follows:

A floating device (float) is mass-produced, ideally from recycled hard plastic/PVC, in a colour that blends well into the surrounding environment (dark greens or blues depending on the surrounding landscape). The size of the float will be between perhaps 5×5¬†meters and 25×25 meters, depending on the local requirement, and does not have to be square but could also be round, rectangular, or oval (boat-shaped).

The body of the float would be hollow to ensure good flotation, and have a honeycomb-like interior (compartmentized, in say 1×1 ft compartments), so that should a leak occur only a very small compartment would flood and the rest of the float would not be affected (this to ensure long life-expectancy with low maintenance: even with multiple holes in it, a float would continue to float and function).

On all sides of each float would be spacers (probably sticks or frames with rubber bumpers, made from recycled tyres, at the end) to keep the floats at a minimum distance from each other (there would need to be a gap of at least a few feet between each float to ensure water oxygenation and proper separation of the floats).

Cheap water sensors could be fitted in each compartment, in order to “report to base” whether that particular compartment has a leak. Floats with too many leaks could then be taken in for recycling or repair based on this automated diagnosis, without someone having to go out and check for leaks.

For stabilisation, the float would have a keel filled with ballast (which could be recycled materials such as mine tailings, concrete from demolished buildings, or scrap metal depending on local availability).

The float would have either two or three energy-generating features:

  • Windmills or wind-grids (see my other post “A New Kind of Wind Energy“). These would be mounted on poles or masts above the surface of the float.
  • Solar cells. The surface of the float (which, depending on local conditions could either be more or less flat, or angled) would be covered in these. Alternatively or additionally, extra solar cells could be mounted as panels on poles (at a level below the windmills, so as not to interfere with them).
  • Tide fans or turbines. These would be mounted on the bottom of the float, under water, and generate electricity by capturing the tide or the water flow, for example in a river. Tide fans may not be useful everywhere, for example in lakes without any water currents they could not be used (however in that case, perhaps commercial fish farms could be constructed underneath the floats, with nets hanging off of them; alternatively, “eco fish farms”, aimed at regenerating depleted fish species for environmental purposes, could be created using the floats, enhancing the floats’ environmental benefits).¬†

All equipment mounted on the float should be easy to remove/replace, so that any faulty elements could be swapped out within minutes. Mounts should be engineered so that even after years of exposure to the elements, they should be removable without tools or only a basic one such as a hand-operated screwdriver, and there should never be more than one screw to hold each element, if at all possible (particularly, no materials susceptible to any type of corrosion should be used).

Floats positioned in a specific area would be connected together, and one or more of the floats closest to the shore would have a cable going to shore through which all energy from the floats would pass to dry land.

On land, the energy would be processed and pumped into the grid. Alternatively, it could be used to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen, so it can be stored and used later on in fuel cells (this is perhaps a more complex way of dealing with the power).

Each float would have a small, basic computer which would monitor the leak sensors, and the functioning of the components such as windmills and solar cells. This way, malfunctions could be detected remotely.

Likewise, each float would have a power control box which would monitor power and condition it/protect against spikes or other malfunctions, so that the grid of floats would not be affected by a single unit malfunctioning.

Depending on the local conditions, floats could be equipped with a rudder and one or more small electro motors, to keep floats positioned in a certain orientation so as to make best use of the sun and wind. However it may be possible to avoid this by clever design of the float surface elements, particularly the positioning of the solar panels.

Floats could be used on lakes (in large clusters, covering massive areas away from land and invisible to the public to avoid complaints about visual pollution; if sufficient surface is covered, it will prevent the wind from whipping up large waves, so it would also serve to pacify larger lakes). They could be used on rivers (for example lining the banks when they are not used for other purposes, leaving the centre of the river free for shipping) and they could be used in sheltered bays on the coast.

Floats would need to be anchored (either to land, or to the lake, river or seabed); to save costs, a group of floats should be able to use the same anchor. The design of the anchoring system should allow for secure anchoring, but also very easy undoing of the anchoring so that any faulty floats could be swapped out by no more than two men in a small (tug)boat (to keep maintenance costs of the float farm down).

Massive versions of them, specially designed and constructed to withstand the open sea, could conceivably be developed for use off-shore.

Cost will need to be brought down by agressive marketing and global deployment of these floats, so that large factories can be built for their manufacture, which will also be able to use massive amounts of recycled plastics, encouraging plastic recycling. The mass production should enable component costs to be low.

Some of the floats could be equipped with environmental sensors (monitoring wind speed, temperature, water conditions, sunlight intensity, pollutants in water and air, etc.) and report the data back via the computer network of the floats.

As an added bonus, the undersides of floats could be designed in a way, and perhaps covered with materials, that would encourage inhabitation by water life (such as fish, and in the ocean, corals or seaweeds). This would add to biodiversity and help “sell” the concept of the floats to the public in areas where there could be opposition.

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

Disclaimer: Any trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
All usage of this site is entirely at users risk.

A New Form of Wind Energy

14 August 2008 at 11:56 | Posted in Green Energy, Green Initiatives, Inventions, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy, Wind Power | Leave a comment
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[Category: Inventions. If you are new to my blog please read the “About itimes3” page first]

In many parts of the world clusters of massive white windmills have sprung up in the past two decades, changing the look of the land and generating electricity.

This is mostly positive of course, however there is something strange about this phenomenon: it appears the windmills are getting bigger all the time.

Obviously, this is good for the energy companies: they can afford these big windmills, and the bigger the mills are, the more electricity they generate.

However wind is available almost everywhere. Around your house, around your office, in every city street, and almost everywhere else too.

For obvious reasons, we cannot install massive windmills on our roofs. Even the smaller ones, which some “green” folks have in their garden or in the mast of their boat to help generate electricty are not necessarily useful for every situation.

However with wind available almost everywhere, it would be nice if we had a solution that can be more ubiquitously deployed, like on every house and every office tower.

This solution would be a system with grids of smaller elements that generate power from wind energy. These individual elements would be small casings, not bigger than 30cm x 30cm (1ft x 1ft), each containing either a windmill or a wind “vane” (more about the latter later), a dynamo-type device to generate the actual power, and wiring and connectors to connect to other such casings within the grid.

It may be possible to create very small elements, and the smaller the element the more easily a grid of them could be deployed.

The elements would all simply “click” together into the grid (or at most require one screw), and should an element fail, it would be a matter of minutes or less to swap it out with a working one.

Grids of these power generating elements could be attached to for example the corners of office and apartment towers, starting at one or two stories above the ground and going all the way up, and extending out several meters from each building corner.

Smaller grids could be deployed on the roofs and corners of houses, in gardens, on light posts in the street and elsewhere as stand-alone setups, and various other usage locations could be imagined.

The key to the usefulness of the system would be the ability to quickly swap out faulty elements, which would also be low-cost due to mass production and standardization. Recycled plastics and metals could be used in manufacturing to give the product an ever greener edge.

Coming back to the wind “vane” mentioned above, this is a more unusual suggestion, in which the windmill concept would be replaced by a type of computer-designed “blade” or vane which would flutter up and down in the wind and generate electricity that way. The design of the curving of the vane would depend on local wind condition averages. If this were a viable alternative to windmills, it could potentially have benefits in the area of wear and noise reduction (any windmills attached to buildings would anyway need to be engineered for low noise emission).

Each grid of windmills would output its power into a control box which would then feed it into battery-type storage (or use a fuel cell system for conversion to and from storage), or alternatively be “standardised” and fed into the building or the power grid.

Using this system, power could be generated everywhere in the city, and not just be dependent on large power companies erecting massive windmills which can only be deployed in special remote locations, and are too expensive for the average household or company to deploy.

If you like this idea and you work in a type of industry where this is relevant, I would be happy to discuss in more detail, answer questions or assist in other ways. For details and contact information please see the “About itimes3” page.

George Spark

Disclaimer: Any trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.
All usage of this site is entirely at users risk.

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