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You are here: > News > Nov. 7, 2005

Top 100
TMA's vertical axis wind turbine introduces competitive advantage

Design creates pull on the back side, contributing to 40%+ wind conversion efficiencies; doesn't kill birds; runs more quietly; and doesn't need to be installed as high, blending better with landscape. Generating costs estimated at 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, surpassing conventional energy sources.

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News - Exclusive Interview, Breaking
Copyright © 2005

Earlier versions of the TMA vertical axis turbine.  TMA is not releasing the most current photos, due to the patent-pending status of some of its aspects.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING, USA -- Terra Moya Aqua Inc. (TMA) is ready to go into production of a new vertical-axis wind turbine design that resolves some of the shortcomings that have plagued the traditional propeller design.

While many of the new design features are superior to the familiar propeller, Ron Taylor, who is the inventor of the new vertical design, as well as founder, Chief Operations Officer, and chairman of the board for Terra Moya Aqua Inc., is modest in his approach. He does not see his vertical turbine supplanting the existing propeller infrastructure, but rather views it as supplementing the field.

Ten years in the making, with seven iterations, and countless hours in a wind tunnel being tested by a premier wind engineering firm, as well as years of data collected from prototypes installed just outside of Cheyenne (one of the more windy locations in the U.S.), the TMA design is now ready for commercialization.

While the various propeller designs now in use harness from 20 to 28% of the wind’s power, with some newer designs edging to between 30% and 40%, Taylor says that TMA's design captures over 40% of the wind’s power, all across the profile, from low- to very high-speed winds.  Depending on the harsh Wyoming weather, a production prototype is expected to be completed in 5-7 months, at which time they will then launch full-scale manufacturing.

Power from Push and Pull

Perhaps the most fascinating feature of this new design is the fact that it not only gathers energy from the push on the front side, but actually is pulled forward on the back side through a lift effect, similar to the principle that causes lift on a wing. "The back pressure creates a vortex that pulls it around, turning drag into lift," says Taylor.

The result is that the turbine spins just slightly faster than the wind speed -- 1/100ths faster on average, beginning with winds of about 5 miles per hour.

This facet is the "technology breakthrough" that makes it unique, according to Taylor.

This is the crux of their design, and of the approximate sixty claims between the two U.S. patents awarded and a third pending, and numerous international patents secured as well. "We have received notice of the acceptance of the 2nd USA Patent from our attorney but have yet to receive the printed version with the number," said Taylor.  "Our patent attorney is very pleased with how broad our patent protection is."

Trial and Error

Earlier designs had 7-8 rotors on them, but in wind tunnel testing, they found that the wind tended actually to blow around the turbine – much as water flows a rock in a stream – rather than through it. This is a case, the inventor confirms, in which “less is more.” Their present design has only two rotor blades with three directional foils.

The independent Fort Collins wind-engineering company, Cermak Peterka, Perterson, Inc., that tested TMA's various design iterations, is considered one of the most competent in the world. For example, the company’s track record includes running the wind analysis on the WTC Twin Towers prior to their construction. (Ref) TMA also used some of the same software used by large automobile and airline manufacturers such as G.M. or Boeing, for data collection on materials stress and wind flow.

As a result of implementing changes based on these professional analyses, TMA's latest vertical turbine performs eight times better than their first.

Ready to Come out of the Chute

Ronald J. Taylor

Inventor of the design, as well as founder, Chief Operations Officer, and chairman of the board for Terra Moya Aqua Inc.

Taylor said that his company has taken a very low-key approach in the development of their technology. "We would rather under-promise and over-deliver [than the other way around],” he said.  Now they are ready for the spotlight, which has landed on them since a story that was released on Friday by the Casper Star Tribune was immediately picked up by the Associated Press. Their phone has been ringing non-stop.

Cost is Below Conventional Energy

Taylor says that the energy generation cost for their turbine comes in at around 2.5 to 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the regimen, comparable to the most efficient propeller designs available. He arrives at this figure by taking into consideration the power curves, cost of construction, and all testing and design work. However, he might be overly modest in saying that. Just this year wind power reached the benchmark of becoming competitive with conventional energy generation, which is in the range of 4-6 cents/kw-h -- nearly twice as expensive as the number Taylor gave. (Ref.) 

Taylor said that were it not for the production tax credits that wind turbines receive,  there would not be nearly as many built, and they would not be as competitive with commercial generation systems.  He doesn't think that the TMA turbine will require a tax credit in order to be competitive, especially in higher wind areas.

Handles High Wind Speeds

The optimal speed for harvesting wind energy, between 28 and 33 mph, is the same in both the traditional propeller design and the TMA design. However, TMA's vertical axis design can generate electricity from winds as high as 70 mph, while the propeller designs typically can only generate energy into the low 50's. This means that the TMA design can go into areas of stronger winds beyond the tolerances of the propeller designs.

In propeller turbines, the pitch of the blades must be changed depending on the wind speed. At lower speeds, the blades are more flat, and become more angled with higher winds, catching less of the wind’s capacity. Once the wind speed surpasses a propeller's top speed, it is designed to be braked to a stop. This eliminates damage from outward-thrusting centrifugal forces which the props are not designed to handle.

The TMA vertical axis design, on the other hand, doesn't have to be braked to a stop. "We do not have to change the angle of our rotors," said Taylor. He said their fixed configuration works equally well at low and high speeds. Once the wind goes above 70 mph, the rotor is disengaged from the generator and gear box so as to not damage them, and is left spinning freely and harmlessly at close to the speed of the wind.  The diameter of the rotating vertical axis turbine is much less than of the propeller design.

Taylor said the TMA turbine will begin to spin with winds of around 5 mph, at which point it is just free-wheeling.  It begins powering a trickle charge as the gearing system engages when the wind speeds reach between 8 and 10 mph.

The TMA design is rated by structural engineers to handle winds of 156 mph without any damage to the structure.  This is just below a category "F3" tornado wind speed. (Ref) Subjected to winds of 180 - 212 in early testing under controlled conditions, an earlier prototype withstood this force, with the only consequence being that a lock collar loosened by 1/8 of an inch.

In the 1960's, 108 mph winds wrecked an array of propeller turbines in Spain. TMA's prototype near Cheyenne was recently subjected to winds of 104 mph and "kept on going," said Taylor.  "We do not take down he turbine in storm conditions as it is designed to handle nearly any situation. Obviously a hurricane or direct hit from a major tornado will do damage to anything man can build, but we are satisfied with the durability of the TMA turbine in most extreme wind conditions."

The ability of the TMA turbines to generate electricity during stronger winds offers a tremendous power advantage. The physics of wind power is such that for every doubling of wind speed, there is an eight-fold increase in the amount of wind power. Given the wind-speed limitations in presently-available horizontal-turbine technologies, the region of mid 50 mph to 70 mph will essentially be held exclusively by the TMA technology. This is double the 28-33 mph optimal range for prop turbines, and offers the promise of eight times the power output capacity in windier regions.

Kind to the Birds; More Quiet

One of the primary environmental drawbacks of the propeller wind turbines is that they kill birds.  The tips of the blades spin much faster than the wind speed, chopping through the air sometimes at speeds of 200 mph.  The birds generally just don't see them coming.

The TMA vertical axis design probably "looks like a building to the bird," said Taylor. "We've never seen a dead bird at our test site." Likely this is because birds don’t normally fly into solid walls.

He notes that his company has been able to secure permission to install their turbine in several California counties where propeller turbines are banned because of the known bird carnage.

Also, because of their lower speed, the TMA turbines produce much less noise than the propeller counterpart.

Blends Better into the Environment

Another advantage of spinning at the speed of the wind, is that the damage to the TMA vertical axis rotors from particulates carried by moving air is negligible. A side benefit from this, which is very important to many people, is that the device can be painted to better blend in with its environment. Not being chipped by wind-driven sand or other small fragments of matter, the paint will last longer. Because it stands much shorter, about half the height of a comparable propeller design, the TMA’s visible impact on the landscape is much smaller as well.

Serviceability and EMF

Fig. 1; US Patent 6,015,258 (January 18, 2000)
Wind turbine (pdf)

An advantage of vertical-axis wind turbines in general is that the generator can be situated on the ground for ease of access and service.  It is also can be protected better from the elements that can wear on the gears and generator.

Some other advantages of the TMA system, as listed on the company website are

  • no field of magnetic resonance
  • no interference with aircraft navigation or communication
  • no ground resonance

In other words, there is "no electronic, magnetic or radar interference for aircraft navigation equipment." (Ref)


Finally, Taylor says the TMA design scales very well, performing "proportionately better."  Still, he does not see a need to go to a huge size, but intends to design these turbines for output of between 1 kilowatt and 1 megawatt.  A 1 kW turbine would stand around 18' feet high, including the control systems under the rotor area.  This is in the low range to handle home power supplementation, and is small enough to be permitted in most residential zoned areas.  The municipal-grade 1 MW turbine would be about 220 feet high, half the size of a comparable propeller system.  The production prototype will be a 25 kW machine and stand approximately 34 feet tall.

Now that the hard work of research and development is over, and the process of production commenced, Taylor calls this project an "overnight success story.  It only took us ten years to get there."

About the Company

TMA is not a publicly-traded company, and therefore cannot solicit investments.  Those who do invest in the company are give a full understanding of the technology prior to doing so, and are brought in under non-disclosure, non-compete agreements.  TMA will be farming out the manufacturing through licensing contracts.  The company presently has four to five fabricators lined up, with trained people ready to build their designated turbine components.  "Turbine material lists are finalized, and the bidding processes have been completed or are in the final stages.  TMA also has multiple purchasers for the product once the first model's power curve and performance is confirmed by actual operation of the full scale model."

# # #




Terra Moya Aqua, Inc. (TMA, Inc.)
2020 Carey Avenue, Suite 700
Cheyenne, WY 82003
Phone: 307-772-0200
Fax: 307-772-0222

White Paper

B. Cochran and D. Banks, CPP Inc., Fort Collins, CO; S. Taylor, Terra Moya Aqua, Cheyenne, WY; "A Three-Tiered Approach for Designing and Evaluating Performance Characteristics of Novel WECS"; AIAA-2004-1362; 42nd AIAA [American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics] Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit; Reno, Nevada, Jan. 5-8, 2004.

- AIAA reference
- Download (pdf)

As the wind market matures and becomes more competitive, it is increasingly important that new entrants realize the full potential of their wind energy conversion system (WECS) early in their product development cycle. Traditionally, the evaluation of potential performance characteristics has been limited to full-scale prototype testing in a field environment. This method can be both costly and time consuming, and, unless conducted carefully, can lead to erroneous results. A more practical approach is to integrate multiple design tools and to use each to the extent of its capabilities. The threetiered approach described in this paper integrates numerical assessment tools, reduced-scale testing in a controlled environment, and full-scale field-testing. Each of these tools provide unique opportunities and limitations, but properly integrated, they can provide a method for designing and evaluating performance characteristics at a cost and time frame significantly less than traditional methods. The exact integration of each these analysis techniques will tend to be device specific since the limitations of each tool will depend on the characteristics of the WECS. While each of these three tools have been used in the past, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time that this integrated three-tiered approach has been utilized specifically for designing and evaluating the performance characteristics of WECS



Q. What about Residential Applications?


: "Ronald Taylor"
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 8:50 AM


TMA will be offering various sized turbines in the future. We do see a market for smaller units for residential to 5 kW) applications and units in the 25kW to 100kW (small business etc.) where there is adequate wind. As a general rule of thumb the turbine itself will be of a more standard size and the generators/control systems will be modified as to power production capabilities. This will mean the smaller units will have a higher installation cost but we do not envision, at this point in time, building dozens of different sized models. The market/demand/sales will certainly have a bearing on the direction TMA's engineering and manufacturing take. We also will build turbines in the 250 Kw to 1 Megawatt in size, with the larger units to be installed in wind farm applications away from residential settings.

In our future product line we do envision a roof-mounted residential sized unit, probably 6 to 8 feet tall dependent upon wind speed etc., that can be mounted on various roof styles. We have not bid out units of this size at this time for price quotes etc:

You may also be interested in noting that TMA recently had two very experienced and distinguished gentlemen join out Board of Directors. Mr. John Nunley III and former Wyoming Governor, James E. Geringer. These individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent, through their engineering, business and political backgrounds to the Board of TMA.

Additionally, in the portion of the article where Sterling talks about " TEN YEARS in the making, etc., the wind engineering company is CPP Wind Engineering,Inc. of Fort Collins, Colorado. This information will be important as it will allow interested persons to look CPP up on the website and see how tremendously experienced and respected they are in this industry. The founding PhDs. virtually have written "the book" (actually a multitude of books) on wind engineering and design testing. They are some of the very best in the business.

The combined talents of TMA's Senior Mechanical and Design engineer, Scott J. Taylor, and CPP'S wind tunnel facilities and personnel, allowed TMA to discover and develop the most unique and functional vertical axis wind turbine ever envisioned to date. Mr. Taylor's engineering skills and ability to look beyond what was considered accepted maximum vertical turbine (Drag Machine) performance curves and capabilities, resulted in TMA having one of the most efficient (Vertical Lift) turbines ever designed and tested. This product will have a significant impact the renewable wind energy industry.

TMA also has a very well established Marketing Division headed up by our President, Mr. Duane A. Rasmussen and an International Marketing company, Rocky Mountain Alternative Technologies, (RMAT) headed up by Sr. VP Shannon P. Murphy. They have already been receiving a multitude of inquires as to when this product will be available for delivery.

Ronald J. Taylor
Chairman / Founder
Terra Moya Aqua, Inc.

* * * *


  • Vertical Axis Wind Turbine With Push and Pull - Read the scores of comments from the Slashdot crew, ranging from sarcastic and skeptical to constructive and laudatory, with some funny mixed in. (Slashdot; Nov. 8, 2005)
    • Another obvious advantage of this design is that unlike a propeller, you don't have to turn them around when the direction of the wind changes... A couple of years ago I talked with an engineer friend about this when we got on the subject of alternative energy. This isn't a new idea of course, variations have been used above chimneys [] for a long time for instance. He told me then about the large number of advantages to this design. I don't remember if I asked him the question that pops up in my head now - why did the propeller design become the norm? (LarsWestergren)
      • Of course, turning turbines around has been a solved problem since forever. The disadvantage of vertical turbines is that the wind is so much faster at the top than the bottom, which makes half of the turbine essentially useless. (gnu-generation-one)
      • That is because airospace engineers are the main designers of these kind of machines. They know propellers, have all the systems to calculate what is possible with it... (jurt 1235)
      • A lot of it has to do with materials. VAWTs suffer from two notable stresses that are inexistent [?] on HAWTs. 1) centripetal forces and 2) vibration. ... (otter42)
    • ...Altamont Pass, ... is apparently the most deadly wind farm for raptors in the U.S., and kills about 800-1300 birds of prey a year. ... this is a tiny amount compared to the number of birds that crash into windows of buildings in your average city. On a per-turbine basis, cell phone towers kill more birds. ... (Chris Burke)
      • Modern turbine designs have taken these problems (and many others) into account and now kill very few birds - probably fewer than are killed by flying into electricity pylons. The main design changes are that they are much larger and slower rotating, so birds tend to judge the motion correctly and avoid them. ... (DFJA)
      • The 1000 or so wind turbines on the North Sea coast of Germany near Holtgast have driven the water birds completely out of the area. The problem was not strikes, but the noise and perhaps visual disorientation. ... (anon)
      • Is it really an advantage that it doesn't kill birds in these H5N1 times? (slamkoder)
      • ...bird death is about 1 per turbine per year for current technology. This is about 9 orders of magnitude less than bird death from buildings/vehicles/airplanes etc., and that's not considering the environmental consequences on bird life of NOT using renewable sources...
        Dumpy little vertical axis machines may have limited uses in isolated installation, and for revolving advertising, but they are not practical for large scale generation. The rotor of a modern 5MW wind turbine is about the same size as an athletics track. Imagine how big this vertical axis machine would have to be to match the wind capture of this. If the alternative is to have many small devices, there would be a very large number indeed: this carries costs of electrical interconnection, massive maintenance overhead from trillions of puny alternators and gearboxes, all of which was probably ignored in arriving at the 2.5 cents per kWh. (wasteur)
    • Wind power usually isn't practical or environmental for large-scale deployment (land usage/kW is too high), and I expect this design won't change that, but it could make wind an even better choice for microgrids []. ... (Colonel Sponsz)
      • ... Land usage / kW for wind turbines is NOT too high. You only actually need half an acre/MW. The rest of the land is for wind easement, and you can carry on farming/horticulture without much interruption on it. ... In developing countries, windy land is mostly arid, mountainous, or coastal - nothing much grows there. ... Distributed development of wind power projects over geographically distant areas can theoretically reduce intermittency, which is the usual FUD against wind these days ... (Clueless Nick)
    • From my readings, and as a pilot, I can hazard a guess that this is because of the enormous complexity both in manufacturing and in maintenance of having a variable pitch prop. The money that you save (earn) through increased efficiency might be gobbled up the first time you have to higher a technician to climb to the top of a 200m tower and fix a faulty blade. Don't know if this is the only reason, but it's certainly a major one. ... (otter42)
    • ...When these people deride "tip speed ratio" they are giving up the fact that, when you can travel faster than the wind, as does the outer regions of a bladed turbine, you have the opportunity to generate more power due to the lift-to-drag ratio of high aspect ratio blades (wings) providing lots more torque than you would get by mulling along at around the same speed as the wind.... (anon)
    • ... Not stated was variable pitch propellers have lots of advantages too - no clutch. His design implies a clutch, and we know both brakes and clutches wear out. In the meantime, cows, dog, cats and rodents who try this revolving door will get what they deserve. With propellers up high, you dont need a fence. (anon)
    • ...the best wind generator is the vertical axis generator. it removes a significant amount of complexity and can be easily made from junk lying around most farms. 55 gallon drums cut in 1/2 make the blades easily (plastic ones are best) and a belt/pulley system to a car alternator makes an inefficient version, you can make a highly efficient version that will produce usable power at only 6-8mph winds if you make your own coil pack and greater your permanent magnet stators with the surplus high power jobbies available most anyplace. ... (Lumpy)
    • ... it scales vertically. we built one with 6 55 gallon drums. 3 on the lower tier 3 on the upper tier cut in a way to have 6 blades per tier. ... You have to couple it with solar. because the days it's not windy it's usually very sunny ... (Lumpy)
    • ...What he's proposing is a Savonius windmill. A fancy aenometer. ... "Why not do it like a paddle-wheel? Like on an old steam-boat?" Well, do you still see those old steam-boats tooling up the river and across the ocean. No? Maybe you should wondered why. It's because... surprise, surprise, it's less efficient. ... (otter42) (also)
    • This link [] is the nicest derivation I have seen online of Betz's law regarding the maximum effiency (16/27 ~= 59%) of any non-compressible mass flow capture device. ... If it can endure much higher winds than a prop installation, its OVERALL effeciency might be higher, because the energy in a mass flow is proportional to the cube of the wind-speed.... (Starker Kull)
    • ... 1. To do maintenance, you have to take the entire sucker apart in order to get at the bearings. (TubeSteak)
    • If not this particular company and technology, the prices they are giving are in line with most analysts' expectations. (danharan)
    • 2002 data for US electrical generation show that production costs for nuclear and coal, averaged over all plants, are just under 2 cents/kWh, with nuclear just a hair cheaper than coal. (anon)
    • If the design is so revolutionary, more financially viable than conventional power, and better for the environment, then no doubt they'll make a killing financially whether they patent it or not, as they're the experts and have the lead on manufacturing it. Why bury it under years worth of patent protection, instead of releasing it to all and saving the planet? (hotdiggitydawg)
    • This design does not create "pull" on the leeward side. There is no such thing as a negative aerodynamic force. (jrc)
    • Let's never post links to anything that challenges the consensus view of technologic capabilities! After all, what did the airplane, high-speed trains, synthetic polymers, high-speed data communications, hydrogen fool cells, brushless electric synchronous motors, or any of those other heretical ideas give us that was worth all those other crackpot ideas we had to listen to? It's far too painful to ever listen to nutcakes and charlatans, we must protect our delicate sensibilities and the pristine reputation of regardless of how many innovations we will consequently ignore! (Medievalist)
    • they forgot basic physics ke=mv^2, so for a doubling in velocity, the ke will quadruple, not octuple (unless of course there are added efficiency gains from increasing rotor speed, but I doubt it)... (Super Happy Fun Chem)
    • I think what Mr. Taylor needs to do is demonstrate this new wind turbine technology and prove its claims to GE Energy.... (MtViewGuy)

See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Nov. 7, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
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   Second, it is violently opposed; and
   Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

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When you're two steps ahead,
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