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You are here:
PureEnergySystems.com > News > Dec. 23, 2005

Top 100
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.

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2005

click here for PowerPoint presentation
(posted with permission)

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 Kevlar.

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 funding.

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 per second.

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 downwind.

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 big expense.

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 don’t 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 ships.

A wind farm installation is slated for Southern Ontario, beginning in about a year.

The company has secured patents in 161 countries to protect this design worldwide.

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.

# # #


See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Dec. 22, 2005
Last updated February 24, 2006




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