The higher up in the air you go, the faster wind travels – so naturally the further from the ground a wind turbine gets, the more power it can produce. That’s 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.
Images by Michael Sanchez