Just watched an episode of discovery channels Ways To Save The Planet about high altitude wind power. Fred Ferguson, an aeronautical designer, has built a prototype helium filled high altitude wind power turbine. More info here. His wind turbine does work but to me its effectiveness seemed a bit limited. I was surprised he didn’t draw on his airship designs more for this project as they will always be more stable in the air. Also use of helium isn’t too green in itself as helium is derived from natural gas, a fuel source that is running out.
I was thinking a specially designed airship / blimp style hot air balloon would be better. It could house maybe 10 wind turbine generators around its circumference, 2 per air intake. It could also use a theory of operation used by a jet engine to make it more efficient & drive the wind turbines faster. Each air intake should be of a slight ‘cone’ design that compresses the air so it is travelling faster before it hits the turbines blades. My electrical theory is old as I don’t use it in my current job but I think the turbines output should be connected in parallel.
In the program they already found what is the most efficient material to make the balloons tether from, being able to support over 5 tons in weight. It then has a power cable wrapped around it to transmit the generators power to the ground where it can be transferred to the national grid.
Not being a scientist or designer I’m not sure of the optimum design or size of my hot air balloon idea but after initially using propane gas to get it aloft like a regular hot air balloon. You would need to be able to seal the balloon closed when initially inflated using gas.
Some of the power generated could be used to power internal heating elements in the balloon, maybe like in halogen cookers, to keep the air hot & keep it aloft without the use of helium. Helium is derived from natural gas which adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The heating elements are built into the interior of the blimp, hung on taught network of cables so they do not touch the balloon when inflated. As you can see from my basic drawings I’m not an artist but you should be able to get the basic idea.
These drawings are not to any scale. I also know nothing of the lifting ability of a balloon. I guess I mean I don’t know how big the balloon would have to be to carry 5 or 10 electrical turbine generators aloft to create power.
If anyone can utilize this then be fair & give us a little cut of the profits! I’m mailing the idea to myself in a self addressed envelope that I’m not going to open. The post mark will prove when I came up with the idea.
Find more airborne wind power ideas on Wilkpedia.