Rooftop wind system saves 150% of solar energy per dollar


Aeromine says its unique “fixed” rooftop wind generators provide up to 50% more energy than a solar array for the same price, while taking up only 10% of the rooftop area and operating more or less silently. In independent tests, it looks legitimate.

Distributed power generation plays an increasing role in global energy markets. Most of this currently comes in the form of rooftop solar systems, but in certain regions, wind can certainly play a bigger role. Not every spot is suitable for a bladed wind turbine, though, and in that regard, University of Houston Spinoff Aeromin Technologies has designed a different, highly tidy shape of rooftop wind power capture that looks like it could be a real game-changer.

As with traditional wind turbines, size is key. So while Aeromine’s wind power boxes take a relatively small footprint on your roof, they’re still pretty bulky. The wings themselves are probably 10 feet (3 m) high, a rough guess, and looking at the most recent photos, they are now sitting atop boxes which may add another 6 feet (1.8 m) or more to their height – so they’re not shrinking violets. On the other hand, they don’t create the noise, or constantly moving visual distraction of a plain-blade turbine, so they may be less welcome in populated areas.

It works differently, too – kind of like a set of racing car spoiler wings sandwiched together facing each other, with a rotating shaft in between. These fixed wings angled with the wind generate a low-pressure vacuum in the center of the device, which sucks air through holes either in the wings themselves or in the round pole, which also helps accelerate the flow of surrounding air over the wings.

(Provided photo) The design places a pair of racing cart-like wings in the direction of a sandwich, to create a low-pressure vacuum that sucks air in from below.  Thus the turbine is kept out of harm's way
(Provided photo) The design places a pair of racing cart-like wings in the direction of a sandwich, to create a low-pressure vacuum that sucks air in from below. Thus the turbine is kept out of harm’s way

Aeromine

So where is the turbine? Depending on the installation, it could be either at the bottom of this central pole, enclosed in a duct, or in more compact designs that sit directly on the roof rather than the top of the box, the fan could be at the bottom of the roof of the building itself, in a tube connected to either this central pole or with hollow chambers in perforated wings. Either way, the wings create a low pressure area, air is sucked through a tube to fill the low pressure area, and Aeromine places a relatively small and cheap internal fan (possibly 36″/91cm) in that tube to run the generator.

It is very quiet, very safe and very cheap to build; You don’t need any fancy materials like carbon fibre, there’s nothing special about the fan itself, everything comes apart from transportation and a relatively simple on-site construction process.

Aeromine has yet to name a standard capacity for its devices in its latest iteration – in fact, we had to go look for a lot of information at all about the device. But in A solution submitted for the AFWERX Reimagining Energy Challenge In January 2021, each of these units is rated at 5 kW – very close to the output of a 21-panel rooftop home solar system. Multiple units can of course be run along the front edge of the building, spaced about 15 feet (4.6 meters), and each unit in the (obsolete) AFWERX Challenge promised to generate about 14.3 megawatt-hours per year. Just for perspective, my 6.5 kW rooftop solar system produces somewhere around 9 MWh per year.

Air wind harvesting unit, installed as a pilot trial on top of BASF's manufacturing facilities in Wyandotte, Michigan.  We expect the large box at the bottom to disappear in commercial applications, with the air intake and turbines running below the roof line
Air wind harvesting unit, installed as a pilot trial on top of BASF’s manufacturing facilities in Wyandotte, Michigan. We expect the large box at the bottom to disappear in commercial applications, with the air intake and turbines running below the roof line

Aeromine

The potential here is pretty clear; Solar and wind energy work well in a complementary way. Solar generation only during sunny hours, wind can be 24 hours but it depends entirely on conditions. The small footprint on the roof allows the Aeromine system to cover the rest of the roof in solar panels, then have some storage batteries on site and run an appropriately sized off-grid business in one form or another.

So what are the negatives? Well, these things should be installed where the wind direction is fairly constant, because they don’t bend to catch the breeze – and they probably never will, because they are designed to be such a cost-conscious machine. Their height may make them a matter of visual or urban planning in some areas, what’s more, they will cast a shadow, which will prevent the sun from reaching the PV panels on the roofs unless the building is oriented so that the sun comes in from one side and the wind on the other. So there will certainly be a limited number of places where they will work optimally in a hybrid system.

But this is a matter of first sight. They are certainly cheaper, stronger, safer and less intrusive than windmill designs, and provide an accessible way to introduce reliable wind energy into the power distribution system.

(Shown image) Several Aeromine units can be run together, with proper spacing, and there are plenty of surfaces left for solar panels to run a hybrid system
(Shown image) Several Aeromine units can be run together, with proper spacing, and there are plenty of surfaces left for solar panels to run a hybrid system

Aeromine

Before you get too excited about any weird new wind energy technology, it’s always worth revisiting Mike Barnard’s excellent checklist for weeding out. Elusive wind power claims. Written in 2013, it’s as relevant as ever today as more and more money is pouring into clean energy technology.

The airlines perform well against Barnard’s test. With support from the University of Houston, it has also submitted its equipment to Gold Standard Sandia National Laboratories for testing – in fact. Sandia was directly involved in the development. It claims to harvest no more than 1/3 to 1/2 of the Betz limit of potential wind energy.

Technical performance analysis prepared in partnership with Sandia, using wind tunnels at Texas Tech University, states, “By sweeping a large area of ​​wind with a reliable design, AeroMINEs have overcome challenges that have plagued other distributed wind solutions and hindered distributed wind from playing an important role in energy markets.” The report also notes an increase in power extraction, along with some aerodynamic instability, when airflow reaches the device from higher angles of attack.

The wind unit is motionless

Aeromine says BASF is testing the system at its plant in Wyandotte, Michigan — though it doesn’t say how many units have been installed or capacity. When searching for satellite overlays in Google Maps, it appears that the beta test unit in the video above is there over herebased on the unique markings on the surface – but the satellite image isn’t recent enough to show the wind power system, so we can’t find out more.

We expect this very tall box-top unit to be just a temporary prototype designed to be easy to add and remove, with the finished product sitting on the roof and its tubes and turbines installed below the roof. We wish Aeromine would be more involved in its marketing.

Either way, despite the limited information the company is willing to disclose at this point, it looks like this could be a great step forward for rooftop wind power distribution. We hope Aeromine will demonstrate its ability to take this technology forward and make a serious contribution to the race towards zero carbon.

Check out a short video from Sandia below.

R&D 100 Winner 2021: AeroMINE – Steady Harvest for Distributed Wind Energy

source: Aeromine Across PR Newswire


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