Wil Sillen's post

Wil Sillen

18 w

This wind turbine bends during storms and hurricanes
By: Romy de Weert
Researchers have built a new wind turbine that moves with extreme winds. The technique, inspired by palm trees, uses thinner, more flexible turbine blades.
Wind turbines are getting bigger and generating more and more energy. At the same time, the chance of extreme weather is increasing, leading to more hurricanes and typhoons. To ensure that wind turbines continue to work safely and do not break down, as recently happened in Zeewolde, researchers built a wind turbine with flexible blades that can move during hurricanes.
Two blades instead of three
The researchers worked on the flexible wind turbine for six years. Instead of the usual three blades, the SUMR (Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor) has two. This ensures that the weight is reduced. “The idea was to look at nature,” says Professor Eric Loth to FastCompany, who works at the University of Virginia and is involved in the research.
“Instead of trying to be stiff and strong, like an oak tree, we designed something that is softer, more flexible, and lighter, like a palm tree.” Normally, the standard wind turbines stand with their rotor blades against the wind. In the worst case, a strong wind can bend the blades back so far that they hit the turbine. That rarely happens, because the rotor blades are so heavy that they are very difficult to bend.
Blades that bend
But making the blades heavy costs a lot of money and a lot of material. “It costs money and essentially energy loss if you have to make them bigger, stronger and stiffer,” says Loth. The SUMR windmill has much lighter blades and is oriented downwind. It is not a problem if the blades bend, because then they cannot collide with the turbine.
For the past two years, the team has been testing a wind turbine in the mountain range near Boulder, Colorado. The design survived wind gusts of almost 180 kilometers per hour and a bomb cyclone. The latter is a very explosive winter hurricane that can cause so much destruction in a short time that it looks like a bomb has exploded.
Growth of renewable energy
The research team expects to need another year to process the data and write reports. They hope that wind turbine manufacturers will be open to the new concept by then. Ultimately, the wind turbines must be placed at sea, about 40 kilometers from the coast.
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The SUMR wind turbine could be an important step in helping renewable energy grow. According to the researchers, the most important thing is that the turbines must become cheaper. "Less heavy material means lower prices."
The researchers are now designing wind turbines of 25 megawatts and 50 megawatts. In comparison, China recently unveiled the world's largest wind turbine with a capacity of 18 megawatts. The 50 megawatt SUMR turbine would rise above the Eiffel Tower (300 meters high) and has an additional 250 meter long blades.
  • George Kariuki

    18 w

    This will go a long way in ensuring the durability of the turbines.

    • Tabitha Kimani

      18 w

      Great technology here.

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