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Sarah Rich, 28 Apr 06

bristol_2.jpg The UK-based low-carbon engineering and consultancy firm, XCO2, has brought visual art to wind-energy generation with a new vertical-axis wind turbine called quietrevolution.

quietrevolution is silent, vibration-free, and well-suited to both dense urban areas and open spaces. With a single moving part and a compact helical S-blade, the turbine makes wind power simple and durable.

It also makes windpower beautiful -- XCO2 has a model which they call "windlights" that contains LEDs embedded in the blades. The spinning, self-generating light creates a colored light show. What better way to get people excited about wind energy and LEDs?

Energy yield and payback projections can be found in this brochure.

via: Transmaterial

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My comments were originally posted here:

QR is a big turbine that pushes the boundary of "micro" and straddles the zone between home-sized turbines and their industrial-scaled counterparts.

Anyway, assuming that their engineering is good and that its not priced strangely, is there any reason for QR to succeed? Personally, I'm not sure if there's a demand for mid-level supplemental alt-energy sources in settings pictured on the QR site; any grouping of QR turbines big enough to have a meaningful impact on utility bills would enter the NIMBY zone - except perhaps somewhere like Las Vegas, where the LED's would fit nicely, or on university campuses.

Not to be down on any foray into alt-energy, but it seems that electricty demand markets are segmented into two parts - sizeable users that need the resources of a grid, for whom minor alt-energy contributions (such as the scenarios pictured by QR) are too small to make a difference, and "personal" (i.e.: domestic) users for who solutions are bounded by size and NIMBY-factor. I'm not sure that the QR will find a following in either group.

Posted by: Rod Edwards on 28 Apr 06

Hmmm... this almost looks promising.

I ran the numbers for our situation. The wind speed is plausible - we're in a "fair" area for wind. You can find wind maps for many U.S. states here.The wind power seems plausible - there are 15 sq.M of area facing the wind, and wind power at this speed would be about 300 to 400 watts/sq.M, matching their installed generator. The 10,000 kWh figure is a tad optimistic, but plausible.

We run a combined household and business on about 7.5 to 8 kWh a day or about 2800 kWh/year. I'm sure we could (and will!) find further efficiency improvements, so assuming 2500 kWh a year is not wild. We live really well, and I'm confident that we could help 3 other households have similar or lower electrical consumption. So it doesn't seem outlandish to think that this wind turbine could power 4 U.S. households living comfortably.

(If we took efficiency seriously, we could increase that to 8 or 10 households.)

The turbine, installed would be about £30,000 or US$55,000. The best way to share 1 turbine among 4 or more households would be net metering, so with inverter, meter, etc., the installed cost would probably be US$60,000, or $15,000 a household.

Where we live, electricity is expensive by U.S. standards, at about 13.5¢ per kWh. A household consuming 2500 kWh/year spends about $338 a year for it. The cost will likely escalate, but I think I'd be looking at some grim economics in our particular location.

Still, this is among the more promising articles on small-scale wind to appear on WorldChanging. The turbine is a beautiful work of engineering too.

Posted by: David Foley on 28 Apr 06

A reader, Subbarao, emailed in this comment:

"I am fascinated to see the elegant and modern vertical design
with the 'S' helical blades. The ancient Chinese used vertical
axis windmills with flapping flat panels with one side pressing
against a bamboo frame and the other side free of the frame to
get the turning force differential. Personally, I have been
thinking about it for a long time but the 'S' design is a leap
into modern efficiencies.

I am equally fascinated by the nay sayers above, gentle as they
are, in missing the 'revelutionary' aspect of the design and its
potential. The costs of course will come down with large scale
production, but the potential applications seem endless.
Mounting multiple units on long column(s) adjacent to a
skyscraper and every lamp post in a windy street feeding the
urban grid etc.

A more direct use is to have the vertical shaft to turn the prop
of a boat or ship. The direction of the wind is irrelevant in
that case and the rudder steers the vessel in the required
direction. That beats the sail hands down. I love this thing and
thank you worldchanging - for coming through every single day."

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 29 Apr 06

Thanks to Subbaro for his thoughtful and hopeful post. I hope not to be a "nay sayer", however gentle. Understand my comments as a "Maybe Sayer".

But always run the numbers.

Posted by: David Foley on 29 Apr 06

wow this is great. hope they will be used somewhere!!

Posted by: k0ochy on 30 Apr 06

Great work!
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Posted by: Joan on 8 May 06

Nice site!
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Posted by: Simon on 8 May 06

Good design!
My homepage | Please visit

Posted by: Vicky on 8 May 06



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