USA - FloDesign Inc. awarded funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative

Wind turbine shaped like a jet engine to provide more electricity at a lower cost than conventional windmills

A wind turbine shaped like a jet engine that its designers hope will provide more electricity at a lower cost than conventional windmills has earned FloDesign Inc. a $500,000 loan from the state to develop a prototype.

The funding comes from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the state's economic development agency for renewable energy.

FloDesign, based here, plans to build a prototype of the turbine over the next 18 months, said Stanley Kowalski III, the chief executive officer.

Conventional wind turbines typically feature three long blades mounted on a tall pole and spinning about a central point. However, the FloDesign turbine resembles a jet engine mounted on a pole, with a series of spinning scoop blades enclosed in a sheath or covering.

"The reason our turbine has a lower cost is that it is smaller than a conventional wind turbine. Ours is about half the diameter. The reason it has better performance is that it is more efficient," Kowalski said.

"We estimate it will be 35 to 50 percent cheaper per kilowatt hour than conventional turbines. It will also operate at lower wind speeds than present models, which will open up opportunities in areas that could not use conventional turbines, such as the Plains states," he said.

FloDesign, founded in 1990, is a research and development company that adapts aerospace technologies to develop and market new products. It has developed products for companies such as Rolls Royce, Sikorsky Aircraft, Sound Solutions and Stage III Technologies. It employs about 20 people.

A separate company, FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp., will be spun off to further develop the wind turbine, Kowalski said. He estimated that 15 additional employees will be hired during the coming year because of the project. The new positions would mainly be in electrical engineering and civil planning with pay in the $40,000 to $90,000 a year range, dependent on experience, he said.

Warren Leon, director of Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's Renewable Energy Trust, said that to assess the turbine, "We relied on our staff and outside review panels and technical due diligence experts who all looked at the company and concluded this is a company with significant promise."

The prototype, which will be built in Wilbraham, according to Kowalski, will likely be tested at a site in North Carolina with the performance to be assessed by the U.S. Department of Energy. The total cost of the prototype will be about $4 million, so additional money is being sought from venture capitalists to fund the effort.

The prototype will be 12 feet in diameter and produce 108 kilowatts of power. If it performs as hoped, models suitable for commercial wind farms will be developed with diameters about 50 feet across and with the capability to produce 700 kilowatts or more of power each, enough electricity to power about 500 homes.
FloDesign Inc.
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist / Author: FloDesign Inc. Staff
FloDesign Inc., wind energy, wind farm, renewable energy, wind power, wind turbine, rotorblade, offshore, onshore

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