Energy Options > Wind Power

Wind-powered lever?

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mangyhyena:
I said I would never patent an energy device because the world needs cheap power and power production needs to be decentralized, IMHO.  The only way I see to accomplish this is with an inexpensive, simple/uncomplicated, DIY energy machine.  Hence, I freely talk about different methods of energy production with others.

I might have hit on a good wind energy idea.  I think it will be inexpensive, made from commonly available parts, be less complicated than a turbine, be truly bladeless, be capable of doing more than just generating electricity, and have implications for generating power from waves in the ocean to boot.

As the title suggests, I'm talking about a lever that is powered by the wind.  Lever arm is vertical.  Pivot point is near bottom.  Top will have a sail on it to catch the wind.  Bottom will be weighted with a magnet.  Stationary magnets and coils will be placed in front of, and in opposition to, the magnet on the bottom.

When the breeze blows, it should push the longer, top of the lever arm with the sail on it.  The bottom, short part of the lever should be driven backwards. (against the direction of the wind). This should drive the magnet at the bottom of the lever toward the stationary magnets and coils, producing electricity.

The wind energy at the sail would battle the magnetic repulsion at the bottom.  The magnets would be trying to stand the sail back up.  The wind would be trying to bring the opposing magnets together.  This power struggle should provide a lot of movement at the bottom as the magnet goes back and forth, that movement generating electricity in the coils.

To help picture this, imagine poking a stick into a marshmallow.  Poke the other end of the stick through a piece of notebook paper.  The marshmallow represents the magnet, the paper represents the wind-catching sail.  Loosly hold the stick between two fingers an inch or two above the marshmallow.  (the stick should be vertical, marshmallow hanging at 6 o'clock position, paper sail at the 12 o'clock position.). Blow on the paper.  The marshmallow should move toward you as the sail is blown away from you.  (The weight of the magnet at the bottom should be heavy enough to keep the sail upright when no wind is present)

If the lever is long enough, a light wind should be able to produce a lot of force at the bottom.  It's that force that could be put to useful work, I think.  If you don't like the magnet idea for electric generation, then imagine that bottom part smashing the crap out of a stack of pizeoelectric disks.

Beyond electric production, this setup might work to pump water, power a hydrolic drive, mechanically compress air in a tank, work a jack or winch to raise/lift a weight, or turn an axel.

It should be possible to cheaply make it as large or small as needed.  It should also be possible to make a bunch of them affordably.  I could see these sitting side by side along the peak of a roof, generating electricity from even light breezes.  Because it employs leverage and the sail can be as large as necessary, maybe it could even work at ground level.

To adjust the power from the sail, you could lower it closer to the pivot, if the wind completely overpowered the magnetic repulsion & stopped moving.  Or, raise it higher on the lever for more power.

At the manufacturing level, they could build the sail to open and close, allowing the lever to move back and forth.  If it were me designing that sail, I'd make it like window blinds.  Close the blinds and the sail catches the wind and is driven down.  Open the blinds and the wind passes through the sail, allowing the magnetic repulsion, or a spring, to stand the sail back up from the bottom.  Open, close, open, ect...

I found a few similar ideas on the web, but they were either huge setups for the power company to use or they didn't quite line up with what I've presented here for consideration.  Doesn't mean it hasn't been done, just that I didn't find a match when searching for it on Google.

This idea has a ways to go before it could be workable.  For instance, there needs to be the right balance of power from the sail and the magnets--or spring. (A spring could also be set up to pull the bottom back, standing the sail back up.). It would have to be properly sized for the anticipated wind speed.  (Detachable components would allow for bigger or smaller weights/magnets/springs to be attached)

In any case, that's my idea for an alternative way to harvest wind energy more affordably.  No tower, no turbine, no spinning blades.

mangyhyena:
To generate power from waves, turn it upside down so the long lever is in the water.  The pivot point would be bolted on a float/raft.  The float would rock on the waves, but the submerged lever would not, causing the short part above the pivot to move back and forth, relative to the float/raft.

Anyways, lots to think through on this.  Feel free to offer advice, suggest ways to construct it, run calculations, or just run with it.  This idea belongs to whoever reads this.  This device belongs to anyone who builds it.  All I ask is that you share your results and help fellow members build one for him/herself if they like.

fritz_monroe:
I think you could have something for mechanical actions to be driven by the wind.

But I don't think this could generate electricity, at least not enough to make it viable.  It takes a magnet passing through many coils to introduce a current.  The magnet on this lever would not cycle through the coils often enough to produce enough current.  At least that's my initial thoughts.

But I do think that you should continue exploring it.  I may be way off on the electricity thing.  But even if I'm not, this would work well to pump or to do some other physical action.

Burton:
I second 'not enough current' for it to be worth it. I mean don't let it stop you from experimenting but if you do experiment then do it on a very very small scale with a fan and a model. (don't forget to scale the fan speed to!)

Wave energy works because it follows a pattern. Wind mills work because it converts the wind into a pattern, as does hydro electric. So you might want to rethink your idea.

Not sure if this would work but you could try something like this:
Use the same leaver design coupled with a 'tail section' like you would find on an aircraft to point it into the wind.
At the bottom of the lever have a plunger which travels vertically as the lever is pressed toward the ground (ie wind is blowing). While it might be necessary to weight the plunger the magnets on it should be enough.
Around the plunger is your standard coil wrap. (Same principle as wave generation).
Now the pattern part. You have to design the sail on the lever to be able to catch a lot of wind so it can work in low wind situations. Second you have to make a breakaway feature so when the lever reaches say 45 degrees it turns its sail at a less than optimal level. This will let the plunger drop back down.

I imagine it would be finicky at best to adjust this system but it would work. The hardest part being the breakaway system. Does it rotate the shaft the lever is on (think of it like a push button pen system), or does it have internal bearings, or work off some other type of magic.

The cool part about this system is it could stand up to higher winds better than a wind mill but it would probably be harder to keep a constant rhythm like you can with mills and the wave generators.

Might want to use google sketchup to figure out your ideas and post them up here. ^_^

mangyhyena:
Thanks for the input.  This is just up for consideration, since I don't see anything else out there that works like this.

Will definitely work with a small model and a fan before trying anything bigger.  There might be a good reason it doesn't already exist.  Maybe it doesn't work.  LOL.

I saw a foot pedal operated generator that puts power to a laptop computer.  You push down with your foot repeatedly, which spins a small generator or alternator.  Maybe a setup like that could be driven with the wind lever.  (shrugs a baffled shrug)

Seems like "cutting power" to the sail so it can stand back up will be the complicated part.  I presented the opening & closing louvre idea, but that might not be workable.  Turning the sail seems like a viable idea.  Hmm, lots more to consider.

Maybe something brilliant will come up in the responses.  In the mean time, feel free to take this idea to a wind energy forum and see what they come up with.

I can see that this may be able to harness light winds into a usable force, the way a car jack harnesses human power to lift a car despite the fact the human is not strong enough to grab the bumper and lift it him/herself without the jack.

Thanks for the comments.

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