- Category: Technology
31 Jul 2012
- Published on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 07:20
- Hits (2718)
A Tunisia-based company Saphon is looking for partners to mass-produce and market is unique wind energy device that promises not just higher efficiency but lower production costs. Saphon Energy is engaged in wind energy research and development. It was set up especially to develop and promote its Zero-Blade Technology for wind energy, which it has patented. "The Zero-Blade Technology is completely different compared to the current three-blade rotational wind turbines," Hassine Labaied, Saphon's chief executive, told EcoSeed.
According to Mr. Labaied, their design is mainly inspired by the mechanism of a sail boat, and is a new and better way to collect the kinetic energy of the wind. Instead of blades rotating, a sail-shaped body moves back and forth with the wind current, converting its kinetic energy into mechanical energy to move pistons. The movement of the pistons creates hydraulic pressure that can either be stored in a hydraulic accumulator or converted to electricity through a hydraulic motor and generator. According to Saphon, the zero-blade technology is capable of overcoming the Betz limit - the maximum possible energy that can be derived from a wind turbine. Named after German wind turbine technology pioneer Albert Betz, the Betz law states that no turbine can capture more than 59.3 percent of the wind's kinetic energy. On average, a wind turbine can only capture 30 percent to 40 percent. Saphon's Zero-Blade Technology, according to the company, level is 2.3 times higher in efficiency. Its low manufacturing cost is due to the fact that it removes the most expensive components of a wind turbine – the blades, hub and gearbox. Another attractive characteristic of the Saphon design is it offers a storage option for wind energy. The hydraulic system converts the winds energy into hydraulic pressure that can either be converted to electricity using a hydraulic motor or generator, or stored. The hydraulic system allows for better power grid management as it allows for a steady supply of power to be produced that is not dependent of the strength of the wind blowing in the area at the time. With wind turbines, the fluctuations in the power generated, dependent on the wind speed at the moment, makes it difficult to integrate into the grid. Saphon has patented their Zero-Blade Technology and is now looking to partner with a major manufacturer to bring the technology to the market. "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," Mr. Labaied told EcoSeed. "We're a clean tech company, our focus remains on R&D," said Mr. Labaied, noting that the idea is to partner with a manufacturer. "We bring in the technology, they bring in the know-how, the capacity and the plant in order to have quick global deployment of the technology." Mr. Labaied said there have been expressions of interest and some talks with suitable manufacturers. Once a manufacturer is found, he believes that it will take around 18 to 24 months to get the first commercial device on the market. (Katrice R. Jalbuena)