Gallery: SELSAM SUPERTURBINES: Flying wind-turbines for max power

Selsam's SuperTurbine sea deployment

The higher up in the air you go, the faster wind travels – so naturally the further from the ground a wind-turbines gets, the more efficient it can be. Thats why the idea of a flying wind-turbine is a such a win-win (or win-wind) proposition. Combining wind power with floating blimps, Selsam has been hard at work expanding the horizons of alternative energy with a revolutionary new breed of SuperTurbines that promise to take wind power to new heights.

Resembling a field of wind-swept reeds swaying on the horizon, these floating wind spires boast an ultra-efficient design that flexes with the wind, taking advantage of air currents along the length of their shaft to generate electricity. Selsam’s prototypes produce 6000 watts in 32.5 mph winds – six times more power than a similarly sized seven foot single-rotor turbine can produce. The turbines can be easily deployed by land and by sea, and their effectiveness can be amplified even further via an air-born blimp.

We’re currently at a bottleneck in the wind turbine pipeline, with GE reporting that it is unable to make turbines fast enough to meet demand. It’s no wonder, since the largest turbines have a propeller size that surpasses the wingspan of commercial airliners and require an intricately machined gearbox. This amounts to a time and resource-intensive engineering and assembly process that has production struggling to deliver on a $12 billion backlog of orders.

Selsam’s SuperTurbines offer an innovative approach to the problem with a scaled-down system of multi-rotor stalks that are extremely versatile, more efficient, and cheaper and easier to produce than than large lumbering windmills. The design relies upon economy of scale to maximize efficiency, employing multiple rotors along a lightweight, flexible shaft that allows it to shift and move with wind currents. Since the turbines rotate at higher rpms than traditional turbines, a small and light direct-drive generator can be used instead of a hulking gearbox.

Selsam’s most recent designs are optimized for sea deployment and consist of a rotor-studded shaft stemming from a floating base that is anchored to the ocean floor. The system is designed so that turbine’s base rotates similarly to the human spine, thus the turbines won’t twist and spin out of control. In an ingenious answer to stormy weather, the turbine’s base can fill with water, submerging it safely beneath the ocean’s surface.

In addition to producing energy, the multiple rotors act in unison to keep each stalk afloat; if you’re in need of a visual metaphor, Selsam’s website supplies them in spades: “Like a flock of geese, each rotor favorably affects the next in line. Like a set of louvres, the tilted rotors pull in fresh wind from above, deflecting their wakes downward to insure fresh wind for succeeding rotors and, like a stack of kites, to add overall lift which helps support the driveshaft against gravity and downwind thrust forces. The rotors act as gyroscopes or spinning tops, stabilizing the driveshaft where they are attached.”

When we recently wrote about Sunhope’s solar balloons, many people suggested that they take advantage of wind energy as well. It turns out that Selsam is one step ahead of the game with this exciting technology. Let’s just hope they find a way to negate the turbines’ ominous implication as potential bird blenders.

+ Selsam SuperTurbines


Images by Michael Sanchez


or your inhabitat account below


  1. 2rashedul November 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Look forward there are lot of things to invent for this beautiful world.

  2. Inhabitat » James... May 29, 2008 at 10:08 am

    […] cooling the building envelope. The Cybertecture Egg will use solar photovoltaic panels and rooftop wind turbines to generate onsite electricity. Water conservation will be managed with a greywater recycling […]

  3. rain on your parade May 16, 2008 at 11:25 am

    good idea. and then you start harvesting bodies of local gulls or turns out the low-freq noise from these things distracts some fancy whale specie from mating and some branch of nature lovers organization du jour who love nature more than you will shut this sucker down. OOPS..

    sorry dear angel investors we didnt think of that ;(

  4. dezynboy May 16, 2008 at 12:21 am

    What about the poor birds who happen to inhabit the coastal areas where this things would reside? Aren’t exposed turbines running up and down the stalk of this thing blowing in the breeze a potential disaster for coastal aviary life? I’m also concerned with how close ships could get near the blades. From the 3rd illustration, all it would take is one strong gust to send those propellers into that tanker!

  5. mwalker52 May 15, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Why are they always using th 3 blade propellers? there are much more efficient designs.

  6. colab May 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Interesting… but I’m a fan of this floating turbine concept that is already proven to work.

  7. clairseach May 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Why have a blimp and turbines when they can be the same thing? See for its magnus effect blimp turbine, a much more elegant solution I think, if it works.

  8. AJ May 15, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Umm….this looks great in concept, I must say, but I have to think that these guys have significant engineering hurdles to overcome. Plus, the idea ultimately relies on being able to move into the wind (I dont know how much of an advantage this is in an off-shore application). I am all for the idea of multiple small turbines as opposed to the large lumbering ones (and I am of the opinion that the former would be more efficient in the long run, if yields can be matched), but I doubt whether a “flexible shaft that moves with the wind currents” is currently easier to produce and maintain. Plus, they may require a larger amount of space to be deployed. On the positive side, I think they would be visually more appealing than the typical offshore wind farm.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home