Asahi Kasei Plastics N.A. Inc. (Fowlerville, Mich.) reported near the end of August that the company is working with Unified Energies International Inc. (Reno, Nev.) on the development of the patented and trademarked Windstrument wind turbine. Although it is billed as a means to “bring affordable renewable energy to the masses,” Windstrument was created, its developers say, not only for residential and other small-scale, off-grid uses, but also for utility-scale projects that could include entire communities, neighborhoods or agricultural groups cooperating on a project basis to generate their own local power. Whether it is rooftop- or pole-mounted, Windstrument is said to be an affordable, quiet, bird-safe, scalable wind turbine system that, in its current maximum size (a 50-inch/1,270-mm diameter swept area) has a rated output capacity of 1.2 kW. It is able to generate power at extremely low wind speeds — as low as to 2 mph/3.2 kmh.
Currently, its blades are manufactured from partially recycled fiber-reinforced polypropylene (PP), but the company’s goal is to use 100 percent recycled PP resin in the blade layups.
“The development goal of Windstrument was achieved using best practices in design, materials and manufacturing, resulting in a truly affordable wind energy system,” says Clay Clark, lead developer of the unusual turbine. “The Windstrument gives consumers, businesses and industry an onsite, reliable power source that is safe and renewable at a lower cost than coal or other fossil-fuel energy,” says Willis Dunham, project director at Unified Energies. Both electrical and mechanical energy can be produced, and because it was developed to generate electric power, the turbine can be adapted to pump fluids (e.g., water from a well) and generate air pressure for compressed air storage.
The Windstrument looks very different than typical turbines, and the design solves problems that are inherent with traditional turbines, claims Dunham. Reportedly inspired by its developer’s experience with sail technology, as a member of an America’s Cup yacht racing team, the blade design is a conical helicoid pattern said to be common in nature. The “natural” dynamics of the blades reportedly allow for bird-safe, continuous power generation at lower heights and in structurally busy urban environments. Windstrument turbines that are currently under development range in size from 1 ft to 4 ft (0.3m to 1.2m) in diameter. But large-scale turbines and systems are also in development. Asahi Kasei Plastics, the largest glass-reinforced PP manufacturer in North America, will supply recyclable PP material for blade production.
Unified Energies is the licensed marketing agency for the Windstrument and associated renewable energy technologies and systems. The company works with government entities, commercial enterprises and private individuals to develop training programs for implementing its proprietary renewable energy technologies and systems on a local, regional or international scale.