Published on June 28th, 2010 | by Glenn Meyers0
Wind Energy for the Home, Sans Blades
The dramatic vista of noisy wind farms featuring towers spanning the length of a football field might soon change if John R. Tuttle has any say about the matter. This engineer’s patent-pending product, called the Windpipe, generates electricity without relying on moving parts.
This Boulder, CO engineer and inventor has multiple patents pending for his direct conversion wind-to-electricity system known as the Windpipe. In a crowded office he demonstrates how it works laying a small Windtube on his desk, connecting a light bulb to the rear of the tube and running a fan in the front of the tube. Almost instantly, the bulb lights up and stays lit, even when Tuttle adjusts the direction of the fan.
The most remarkable detail about this simple mechanism is that has no visible moving parts – only a hollow pipe with a configured nozzle that draws wind down its length, then converting it to electricity. The Windpipe requires no propellers, turbines, or rotating machinery. Importantly, Tuttle’s invention doesn’t stop generating electricity when wind speeds exceed 55 miles per hour, where conventional propeller driven towers do stop.
If all components involved in redrafting part of this wind energy infrastructure come into place, the landscape of the wind-to-energy business may go through a dramatic transformation. It stands to reason why this mechanism has generated such interest. As such, Mr. Tuttle and his team have attracted attention from some leading venture capital firms – unnamed here for reasons of due diligence.
Unlike the traditional vertical tower featuring three blades, Tuttle’s system is horizontal. To visualize, each component – virtually a long box containing a long, hollow tube – measures eight feet by eight feet square and runs a length of 40 feet. The size is similar to that of a shipping container, a practical detail when the system is installed at a remote location.
“Our concept is that you can build that array on site,” says Tuttle. The array he mentions can be constructed in a stackable fashion, one container on top of another, and laterally, as well.
When first-phase funding is in place to build the first demonstration Windpipe system, Tuttle believes it will probably be constructed at the Golden, CO-based National Center for Renewable Energy test farm.
Tuttle is mum on exactly how a windpipe works, other than to state the pipe converts vibrations into electrical energy. He adds in a matter of fact voice, “Energy is equal to velocity cubed.” Sounds entirely logical.