Disruptive turbine technology to change global wind-energy map
12 December 2013
Author: Jim Smyth, CEO, Airsynergy
Airsynergy received the Technology of the Year Award at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2013, at a ceremony in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin on 8 November.
Airsynergy is a renewable-energy product development and technology licensing company based in Longford, which aims to change the global wind-energy map with the commercial launch and rollout of its new, truly disruptive, enhanced wind turbine technology. Airsynergy’s patented turbine technology is based around a shroud system that augments wind velocity. This innovative approach is markedly different to that of current commercially available wind turbines, which rely on rotor-blade size as the primary driver of performance.
The wind-turbine industry has been focused on building ever larger wind turbines and moving them out to remote locations where the wind blows strongest and longest, even out to sea. Through our patented shroud system, we are, in effect, able to bring the wind to us. We are able to synthesise high wind conditions, even on low wind sites, through the better air-management principles utilised in our design.
This unique approach allows the Airsynergy enhanced turbine to produce over 100% greater annual power than that of an equivalent conventional turbine. This results in an almost halving of the cost of wind-power generation, significantly expanding the global wind-energy map and making wind energy economical for sites that were previously not viable. In an industry first, Airsynergy’s enhanced wind turbine can now legitimately claim to be able to produce energy from wind that is now cheaper than fossil fuels. This will mean much faster payback for wind-turbine owners and a reduction in reliance on expensive Government subsidies and tariffs.
The technology is a product of over five years of intensive development through modeling and prototyping. It all began though, with a ‘eureka’ moment for me back in 2008, when I was looking to buy a wind turbine for my home in Cavan. I realised that wind-turbine performance could be significantly improved by using many of the same principles I used when designing air-management systems for factories and industrial clean-rooms in my previous work as an air-management engineer.
Principally, I saw how induction principles could be used to increase the velocity of the wind across the rotor blades and thereby increase exponentially the energy produced
INITIAL TURBINE DESIGN
Following this breakthrough, I set up Airsynergy in 2008 with my four brothers (Andrew, Gerard, David and Peter) and Adrian Kelly, a solicitor from Cavan. The team has since been added to on the technical side and on the commercial side with the appointment of Colin Morgan, former CEO of Setanta Sports and Quinn Insurance, to the role of chief operations officer last year. As of today, Airsynergy has 12 full-time staff operating out of offices in Granard, Co Longford, with two test sites in counties Fermanagh and Sligo.
The initial turbine design we came up with utilised mechanically propelled air through induction nozzles to augment the natural airflow onto the turbine blades. However, with subsequent prototypes, we realised that these induction nozzles could be dispensed with altogether and that by clever design of the shroud surrounding the wind turbine, the natural air could be used to effectively control and accelerate itself. This latter design was then subsequently refined through multiple iterations to take the form it is today.
Airsynergy’s initial product to market is a 5kW wind turbine, which is expected to produce in the range of 17,500kWh annually – the equivalent of meeting the electricity requirements of up to two standard homes for up to one year. This compares favourably to equivalent 5kW and 6kW units on the market (see right).
The product is currently undergoing power performance testing by the leading international certification body, GL Group, and will then complete IEC 61400-2 certification prior to launching in 2014. This will be followed by 3kW and 20kW models as well as a wind-powered streetlight.
We also have ambitious plans to fast track to medium and large wind turbines, with the objective to have models in the market within two years. Our turbine design has undergone full structural assessment and finite element analysis, which confirms that the design is scalable up to 1MW size.
We believe our larger units, in particular, will have profound benefits for national grid infrastructure. The increased capacity factor of the Airsynergy turbine, coupled with its ability to work in areas of low wind speeds, will mean less of the ‘peak and trough’ type power production that characterises conventional wind turbines and wreaks havoc with national grids.
It will also mean that wind turbines will no longer need to be confined to remote, high wind locations and instead can be placed far closer to major population centres and points of use. This will significantly reduce transmission losses through the grid. The smaller size of the Airsynergy enhanced turbine compared to its conventional counterparts also means more Airsynergy turbines can be placed at a given site, thus maximising grid connections.
Concept Photo of Airsynergy 450kW turbine which will produce the same as a conventional 1mW turbine (also pictured)
Airsynergy’s business model is based around licensing its patented designs to business partners who bring the products to markets throughout the world. The licensing model allows for global and rapid deployment of our products and allows Airsynergy to devote most of its energy and resources to innovation and product design, where our real strengths lie. We have and will continue to forge industry partnerships with suitable wind turbine manufacturers and distributors around the world.
The first licensing deal that we have entered is with a US company called Aris Renewable Energy. The deal with Aris includes a multi-state license agreement for the US market. Under the terms of the agreement, Airsynergy has granted Aris a royalty bearing patent license to develop, manufacture and sell wind turbines and wind powered street lighting utilising Airsynergy’s patented enhancement technologies.
We are really excited with the progress we have made and hope that 2014 will represent a breakthrough year for Airsynergy, with our first products coming to market and securing of a number of further commercial partners.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2013/12/12/disruptive-turbine-technology-to-change-global-wind-energy-map/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/download.jpeghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/download.jpegElecenergy,Engineers Ireland,renewables,wind