Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Executive Summary – Fluid Catcher

Fluid Catcher has multi functionality and incorporates new technologies that optimize not only power generation with wind, but other fluid media as well. With the same pieces of equipment you would be able to build a wind farm above water while capturing currents below the surface.  The system also utilizes highly efficient alternator developed specifically for this application.

Background: Wind power generation is based on centuries old technology that has only been minimally optimized through manipulation of materials and upgrades through wind tunnel modeling. Even with these changes, it has not been changed basically from what Heron of Alexandria developed in the first century. Even with these refinements, the same essential issues remain.

                  Traditional Wind Mills             Fluid Catcher                       
 

*    Large footprint and limited site options
*    Scale of “farm” needed
*    High stress loads on equipment
*    High torque
*    Propeller drag
*    Finite range of wind speed needed
*    Low power output
*    Gears with inherent friction
*    Wind Shading
*    Safety
*    Esthetics


*    Small footprint without many site issues
*    Scale is not an issue, can be placed on buildings
*    No stress on equipment
*    Low torque
*    No drag, accelerated speed instead
*    Larger wind speed range
*    Higher efficiency = higher power output
*    No gearing, no friction to overcome
*    No wind shadow created
*    Enclosed so very limited safety issues
*    Can be painted to any color and camouflaged
      and wide range of placement options

 

 

Other Options: In general a more dense fluid, such as water, delivers higher output for the same volume. The design will allow for power generation in any position or media. In those types of installations it would be simple to increase the efficiency by adding large external funnels to increase the speed of the fluid before it enters the Catcher.

*         Can be placed in rivers, estuaries, oceans and waterfalls

*         Can be used in geo-thermal vent pipes

*         In theory it could be placed in any media that has directional velocity without interfering with its normal path

Fluid Catcher offer lower break-even point and is less dependent on government subsidies for operating profit. Construction, land acquisition, startup costs and maintenance costs are greatly reduced with Fluid Catcher.

Wind is increasingly being used as a source of energy for driving windmills or wind turbines in order to generate electrical power. The total investment in wind power exceeded 17 billion dollars in 2008 and projections indicates that the US will take over as the leading wind energy producer very soon. However, these current devices have several disadvantages. These include efficiency in relation to installation costs, noise concerns, danger to birds and air traffic issues and blighting the landscape with banks of rotating windmills of large designs. The  propellers reach or exceed supersonic speeds at the tips of the rotors. They are impractical for small owner-controlled applications and many local energy needs in remote or un-developed areas because of large financial investments needed.

Known wind machines are of two basic types: (l) those having wings which rotate in a plane perpendicular to the direction of the wind often referred to as the propeller type, and (2) those whose effective wing surfaces move in the direction of the wind, sometimes referred to as panemones. (Vertical axis wind turbines). Paddlewheel rotors, cup-type rotors, and open-S and closed-S rotors  are known examples of panemones.

Vertical axis wind turbines typically have a central vertical rotor section having a series of vanes that rotate the wind turbine around a central axis located on the vertical shaft. Wind from anydirection, impinges on the wind turbine. This reduces the design complexity of the wind turbine for use in smaller applications. The orientation of a vertical axis wind turbine remains unchanged regardless of wind direction. A propeller windmill on the other hand must turn to face the wind.  The Fluid Catcher's Shroud has an opening that automatically faces the wind direction while the other half of the shroud is closed to protect and minimize the drag as the vanes rotate "against" the wind.

In a traditional vertical windmill, the wind catching devices are moving in a direction counter to the wind for one half their rotational cycle. The net driving force of such a windmill is determined by the difference between the force generated on the windmill blades moving in the direction of wind flow with subtraction of the drag when the opposite blade(s) are moving against the direction of wind flow.

The efficiency of a vertical axis windmill is dependent upon the efficiency of its vanes. The net efficiency is the difference between the power extracted from the wind when the vane is moving with the wind, minus the drag produced when the same vane is coming around moving against the wind. The Fluid Catcher's design specifically addresses this drag issue with its two turn able shroud sections. One half of the lower shroud on the side were the vanes are facing the wind has an opening while the other half of the same shroud is closed on the drag side. Hence the drag is almost completely eliminated. Vertical axis windmills generally have relatively high starting torques. They also have relatively low poweroutputs dependent on rotor design and weight. These limiting factors have been addressed in the unique Fluid Catcher design. By covering the drag side behind a shroud the size of the vanes can be made much larger than other vertical axis designs. The Fluid Catcher has two counter-rotating horizontal impellers. The lower impeller is attached to a hollow central axel with a direct drive to the rotating field side of the alternator. The in-coming air to the lower impeller is pushing on the vanes and is at the same time re-directed upwards into the upper impeller's vanes. This happens behind the upper shroud closed side and this air flow will assist the drag side of the upper impeller to return to the open face side. The upper impeller's rotation is transferred directly down through a solid shaft turning inside the hollow lower impellers axel to the rotor side of the alternator in the base.

Both impellers will rotate faster than traditional horizontal wind turbines. Since both the field and the rotor  of the alternator rotates, the voltage will be twice that of a traditional single axel alternator for the same rpm. The Fluid Catcher will thereby eliminate the need for heavy, costly and energy consuming gear system between the impellors and the electric generator.  The overall stability of the Fluid Catcher is far superior compared with traditional windmills since heavy parts of the system are located in the base. The re-direction of the airflow will press the Fluid Catcher to either the ground or the structure it is attached to. Moving parts are covered by the split shroud as much as possible. This protect humans and wildlife against large free rotating "knives". The outside portion of the shroud is covered by solar panels for electric power generation which is stored in the base driving the orientation of the split shroud as well as giving the alternator a nudge to get started in low wind speeds. Should the wind speed exceed a safe level, the Fluid Catcher smartly recognizes these condition and turn the shroud towards the its most disadvantageous position. At one final point the drag side is so exposed that it automatically will balance the push side and the whole system automatically comes to a halt. The two impellers as well as the shroud are made from lightweight composite material and balanced on its base. The lower impeller (closest to the base) has a solid base plate to eliminate any contamination from the ground.

The single large diameter horizontal turbine generate a very high torque at relatively low speed. The high torque at low speed must be converted to a lower torque at a higher speed to produce usable power. Since the torque load is high, a gearing system is used to connect the single turbine to a generator. The solution is expensive and prone to wear. The image, to the right, show what could happen when you construct tall heavy equipment attached to a large rotating propeller. "The bigger they are - the harder they fall"

High loads leads to situations where rotor blades stall prematurely when sufficient wind is not available. To marginally increase generator output, the turbine size must increase disproportionately to the generator. Increase in a rotor blade size will cause issues with weight that impacts the strength of building materials and vibration. As a result a substantial amount of energy is lost due to friction and drag.

In wind farms, large rotor blades produce wind shadows. (see image below) This causes other nearby windmills within the wind shadow to operate below peak efficiency. Traditional windmills must be separated to avoid problems caused by wind shadows meaning a larger footprint for wind farms. The Fluid Catcher on the other hand re-directs the horizontal airstream 90 degrees to an upward air-stream as it exits the Fluid Catcher. With one exception being right behind each other in the prevailing wind direction, the placement of a farm of Fluid Catchers can be done more compactly.

 

 

For the reasons previously stated, today’s windmills  are limited to high wind areas such as hilltops and shorelines. Many more areas have existing wind conditions not suitable for conventional wind turbines. Their sheer sizes make them impractical for a single operator user, such as on individual buildings.

It would be advantageous to develop an electrical generating system that effectively uses a wider range of speeds as well as in more than one type of media as an additional sustainable energy source. A primary goal of the Fluid Catcher is to provide electrical power efficiently from a wide range of available moving fluid sources and positions such as but not limited to:

 

- An alternative to other windmills whether they be free standing or attached to an existing structure such as placed under a bridge span.

-Water is a more dense fluid and delivers higher output for the same volume. The design will allow for power generation in any position. It would be simple to increase the efficiency by adding large external funnels to increase the speed of the fluid before it enters the Catcher.

-The Fluid Catcher could potentially be inserted in the fluid flow inside pipes from a geo-thermal heat exchanger.

 

Economics

Traditional windmills require optimal conditions for a minimum of 2,000 hours per year to reach a break -even point assuming that they continue receiving at minimum 50% subsidy from Governments. The cost for producing electric power from a large windmill is at least twice that of other traditional energy sources. This requires optimal conditions in a narrow range of wind speeds. Windmills tend to produce energy at times when there is very little demand! Persistent wind patterns are hard to find during cold winter days and almost as hard during hot summer months. The Fluid Catcher does not pretend to specifically address these issues, but has fewer limiting factors in this regard.

                                                                             The size of the next generation horizontal windmills

Thank you for your time and interest!

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