A Spanish start-up with experts in the development of ground-breaking systems for wind energy generation is looking for partners to further develop a non-conventional alternator. The main objective is to introduce improvements to the alternator's functioning to increase its efficiency and to maximize the generation of electricity from the energy captured by the device. The partnership sought is a technical or a research cooperation agreement.
The Spanish start-up, founded in 2013, has developed a wind turbine that generate energy based on the phenomenon called vortex shedding. The idea came from the inventor and founder of the company when he observed the effects of the resonance phenomenon on the Tacoma Bridge, in USA. Since then, the company has focussed in the development of a system to harnesses wind energy based on this phenomenon. The company has won a SME instrument phase 2 and other international and national prizes.
The result was a ground-breaking turbine without blades, formed by a few parts without gears, noiseless when it is operating, and with a low impact on environment, in particular on bird's population according to a study developed by a relevant environmental organization.
The design of the device was performed using simulations in collaboration with partners with expertise in fluids dynamics modelling and tailored applications, and partners with supercomputing capacities.
The technology developed so far is capable to produce clean energy from low speed winds based on the interaction of the wind and the device (geometrical design patented). The vortices created induce the oscillation of the device in a controlled manner based on the aerostatic resonance phenomena (system patented), movement that is eventually transformed into electricity (alternators under patents). The system is designed to include parts without gears, reducing the operational and maintenance works and costs.
The prototypes can be used connected to the grid or as a stand-alone system capable to generate energy in isolated environments (road signs, wells in farms, opening of fences in rural areas, lighting of beacons in coastal areas, etc.) and in urban areas (recharging points for bikes or electric cars, streetlights in parks, information panels at bus stops, etc.). The device is capable to provide energy for self-consumption and combined with solar panels (in particular photovoltaic systems) could meet the load demands in a reliable manner.
The alternator developed so far for the device adapts with its natural frequency of oscillation to resonate with the vortex shedding frequencies within a wide range of wind speeds. It is based on a magnetic confinement system with permanent magnets that increase the apparent stiffness of the system according to its oscillation amplitude and the degree of core bending. The oscillation amplitude increases as the wind intensifies. This is named “the tuning system” (patented) able to capture energy from a cut-in point of approx. 3 m/s (starting wind speed). This achieves the variation of the apparent stiffness of the structure that can be "tuned" to the incident wind speed, to remain in resonance without any mechanical or manual interference. This greatly increases the lock-in range of the wind turbine (working range).
The current design of the alternator is not performing at the desire level, so they look for a technology and expertise that allow us to move forward. The company is interested in implement improvements to the non-conventional alternator with the aim to increase its performance. The technology seeks shall provide a solution, different from conventional alternators, able to increase the efficiency of energy conversion into electricity of the current design.
In particular, the company is looking for a technological partner with the capacity to provide knowledge and means for the definition, testing and manufacturing of the new alternator. The ultimate aim is to produce a wind turbine market competitively and scalable with several applications.
The company is interested in a technical cooperation agreement to further develop the technology or in a research cooperation agreement.
- Type of partner sought: The specific working conditions of an alternator on a blade free machine require different characteristics compared with conventional alternators.
The general objectives are to improve the specific power of the current development and to reduce costs.
Although it is not essential, given the radial symmetry of the machine operation, the development of iron parts by 3D printing with geometries and discontinuities that minimize eddy currents is optional.
The current evolution of this electromechanical system is based on a small alternator of about 100W nominal power with permanent magnets, and without brushes or shafts. As usual, the moving part of the alternator contains neodymium magnets and laminated electric iron.
However, in addition to the usual copper and laminated iron, the stator also includes permanent magnets with two goals:
1. To bring the magnetic conductors close to magnetic saturation when the machine is in neutral position.
2. To produce magnetic repulsive forces between the stator and the moving part of the alternator which follow a specific angular evolution.
This is an alternator that operates at very low frequencies, with equivalent values below 50Hz.
Air gaps should be limited to values less than 1mm and apparently no thermal or dissipation challenges will be solved.
The optimisation and improvement in performance of the alternator is strongly linked to the fluid-structure interaction of the machine. Given the complexity and costs of computer simulations, the test of results should be done experimentally in both, wind tunnels and under real environment working conditions (prototyping).
One of the most important tasks will be oriented to the detailed definition of the system. Thus, the development will take into account the manufacturing and industrialization of the device with a performance as close as possible to the theoretical one. Also, the assembly of the alternator and the materials used.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: The company is looking for a partner (industrial or academy) with a wide expertise in kinetic and mechanical energy conversion into electricity capable to develop innovative alternators. The outcomes expected from the collaboration is an improved alternator to be incorporated into the device ready to market. The partnership shall be a in the form of a technical cooperation agreement.
The company is also interested in partners to apply to calls (i.e. Eurostars programme) with the same objective, to improve the efficiency of the alternators.
Patents granted - The intellectual property may be shared with regard to processes, industrial and manufacturing methods. The project could include the introduction of relevant (even general) modifications to the current concept of the alternator.
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