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Magenn Power's Floating Wind Generators Nearing Deployment
Inflatable, rotating-balloon wind turbine design scheduled for market
readiness in 2006; at a price close to grid power.
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2005
If you saw the movie Stealth, you'll remember the floating refueling
station. Yes, the U.S. military and other governments do have the ability
to keep very heavy payloads aloft via specially-designed helium balloons made of
Commissioned in the 1980s with the task of lifting 60,000 lbs to 1000 feet, or
6,000 lbs to 10,000 feet, Magenn Power actually got its start with Star Wars
Invented by Fred Ferguson, world renowned in the airship business, the Magenn
Power Air Rotor System (MARS) is a spin-off of that earlier military
contract. Turning at the speed of wind, the inflatable paddle wheel starts
spinning at 2 meters per second, and will handles winds in excess of 28 meters
Helium is not the only thing that keeps the object aloft. Combined with
its shape, the spinning generates lift using what is called the Magnus effect,
which also tends to keep the craft overhead on its tether, rather than drifting
Harnessed by generators located at each end, the energy is transferred down the
tether to a transformer at a ground station.
The company website says that these modules will be able to generate electricity
competitively, and that a 4 kW system will be available for sale as early as
April, 2006. A 1.6 MW size is slated to be ready in 2009.
The end-of-the-day price CEO Mac Brown cited was 3.1 cents per kilowatt-hour,
which is below wholesale for most grids -- that is in 2009, when they get their
1.6 MW unit. The 4 kW system is expected to cost around 10.5 cents / kW-h.
In comparison to other wind systems, one of the savings is in not having to
erect a tower. The system can be set up and taken down relatively easily.
Therefore, carrying out regular quarterly maintenance is not expected to be a
Helium leakage is not an issue under normal conditions; excess air turbulence
and gusting might present a small risk but this craft has been designed to
withstand challenges. Unlike in a child's balloon, helium leaks at a rate of
only half of a percent per month in these designs.
As the turbines spin only at the speed of the wind and dont have the
tip-speed issue associated with long blades. noise is non-noticeable at ground
level. The company has also designed the unit to handle lightning strikes, and
of course have a well-tested grounding system. The shell is coated with a U.V.
block, enabling it to last from 10 to 25 years.
Because of the tether and the possibility of tangling with a nearby floating
generator, the units will need to be spaced adequately. Because depending on
size they can be deployed at heights ranging from 200 to 1000 feet, they will
have to be located outside the airport approach zones, and as with any tower
must be properly marked, lighted and registered for air traffic avoidance.
The company expects to begin by targeting key markets in emergency energy
deployment and developing nations. Brown says that the helium-filled tethered
generator would also be suitable for oil platforms and other marine stations or
A wind farm installation is slated for Southern Ontario, beginning in about a
The company has secured patents in 161 countries to protect this design
Magenn Power Inc. will start manufacturing its Air Rotors in Fall of 2006 and
will start taking product orders in April of 2006 for the 4.0 kW MARS units.
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Page composed by Sterling
D. Allan Dec. 22, 2005
Last updated February 24, 2006