FEB 02, 2016 2:13 PM PST

Wind Turbines With Blades Longer Than Two Football Fields May Soon Power Homes

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Many forms of generating power involve burning fossil fuels, or other actions that can harm the Earth’s natural environment by causing global warming. We’re working harder than ever as a civilization to find better, cleaner ways to produce energy, and one of the ways we can accomplish this is with wind turbines.
You may have thought Japan’s idea to create the world’s highest-capacity floating solar farm ever was a cool idea for producing clean energy, but it’s still only going to provide power to 5,000 homes.
A new wind turbine technology is being developed by a team lead by the University of Virginia to create some supermassive wind turbines, which have blades each longer than two football fields. In fact, each individual blade could sport a length of up to 650 feet, meaning when the wind catches hold of it, you can bet it’s going to be generating a lot of force, which translates to a lot of power.

Supermassive new wind turbines could generate 50MW of power, and fold when it's windy.

These supermassive wind turbines, which could be beneficial not only to the United States where they’re being designed, but also all around the world, would be set up near the coasts, catching on the winds that blow from the sea.
“The U.S. has great offshore wind energy potential, but offshore installations are expensive, so larger turbines are needed to capture that energy at an affordable cost,” said Todd Griffith, lead blade designer on the wind turbine project.
“Conventional upwind blades are expensive to manufacture, deploy and maintain beyond 10-15 MW. They must be stiff, to avoid fatigue and eliminate the risk of tower strikes in strong gusts. Those stiff blades are heavy, and their mass, which is directly related to cost, becomes even more problematic at the extreme scale due to gravity loads and other changes.”
These massive wind turbines would be well over two and a half times larger than any existing wind turbine to date, and would generate up to 50 megawatts of power. This is more than six times what some of the largest and most current wind turbines are already generating.
Such wind turbines would be able to fold in a unique way depending on how windy the conditions are outside such that no damage would occur – this folding mechanism has been modeled off of the way palm tree branches clump together and blow in the direction of the wind in extremely windy conditions to prevent damage.
The project sounds like there’s still a lot to piece together, but it sounds like they have some idea of what has to be done to accomplish this task. This type of power generation from wind turbines has never been done before, and it could greatly improve the friendliness of power generation for our planet.

Source: Treehugger

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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