By Derek Markham
Tree Hugger, August 3, 2012
When it comes to the future of wind power, one company thinks it looks a lot different than you would expect, and cheaper and more efficient to boot. Saphon, out of Tunisia, is interested in finding partners to mass-produce and market their unique wind energy device, based on their own Zero Blade technology.
“The Zero-Blade Technology is largely inspired from the sailboat and is likely to increase the efficiency of the current wind power conversion devices. The blades are replaced by a sail shaped body while both hub and gearbox are removed.”
According to the company, their zero-blade technology devices are capable of overcoming the Betz’ limit, which states that no turbine can capture more than 59.3 percent of the kinetic energy of the wind. An average wind turbine captures only 30 to 40%, while the Saphon turbine is said to be 2.3 times more efficient. Additionally, the cost is expected to be 45% less than a conventional turbine, mostly due to the fact that there are no blades, no hub, and no gearbox on the units.
The Saphon Zero Blade technology is different in other ways as well, most significantly being storage of energy. Most of the kinetic energy can be stored (via a hydraulic accumulator) or converted to electricity with a hydraulic motor and generator.
“We’ve developed several prototypes. We are at our second generation prototype. We did the testing and this second one is twice as efficient as a three blade turbine and in terms of manufacturing is at least 50 percent cheaper.” – Hassine Labaied
The company is now looking for manufacturing partners to bring the turbine to market, and once that happens, they expect to be shipping out units anywhere from 18 to 24 months afterward.