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Micro Wind Turbine

The Micro Wind Turbine is a portable energy source for remote regions and enables people to charge USB devices far away from civilization. It weights less than one kilogram, folds down to the size of a trekking pole and can operate day and night.

What it does

The Micro Wind Turbine is a portable energy source for remote regions and enables people to charge USB devices far away from civilization. It weights less than one kilogram, folds down to the size of a trekking pole and can operate day and night.


Your inspiration

Electronic devices play an important role for our activities in the great outdoors. They are essential for navigating and documenting modern adventures, for scientific surveys or acquisitions and even for rescue operations and disaster management. Nonetheless, charging electronic devices during long periods away from civilization remains a difficult task. So far, solar panels are the only available solution to this common problem, making the power supply completely dependent on weather periods with sufficient sunshine.


How it works

The shape of the vertical axis rotor is based on an optimized Savonius turbine, a simple yet versatile device that can operate in a wide range of different locations and wind speeds: It is very suitable for unsteady and gusty winds and the sails can catch wind from all directions without the need for a pointing mechanism or external regulation. To avoid energy loss through friction and mechanical transmission, the rotor is directly mounted to the generator shaft that is placed in the lower part of the mast. The produced energy can either be used to charge devices directly on the built-in USB port or will be stored in an integrated battery pack with a capacity of 24 Wh. The current design is optimized to be used for standard USB devices and produces a constant output of 5 Watts at a windspeed of 18 km/h.


Design process

After I repeatedly encountered the problem of running out of batteries during longer trekking tours I started to wonder how professional adventurers deal with this situation. I contacted a number of mountaineers, climbers, film-makers and expedition leaders and asked them questions about their experiences, requirements and typical weather conditions. All of my contacts told me that they are usually using solar panels. But being entirely dependent on sunshine is a huge problem for them, sometimes putting them out of work for several days. They were instantly excited about a wind turbine but pointed out that weight, pack size and ease of use would be of greatest importance for them. Subsequently, a series of digital and physical models was created to test the stability, different folding mechanisms and the performance in varying wind conditions to eventually arrive at the final design. In parallel, the electronic system was developed: Numerous types of generators were tested to find suitable options, voltage converters and a battery pack were added and a circuit board to manage in- and outgoing loads was connected to the system. In the last phase, the integration of all components into one sleek and sturdy unit became the final challenge of the project.


How it is different

So far, portable wind turbines of similar scale are not commercially available. Comparable concepts are usually composed of many complex parts, are a lot heavier or produce only a insignificantly small output. Unsurprisingly, these mentioned drawbacks render them useless in real-world scenarios. In contrast to that, the construction of the Micro Wind Turbine is based entirely on the principle of tension and compression and unfolds within seconds by simply pulling the telescopic shaft apart. With a weight of less than one kilogram it is 40 percent lighter than the closest competitor and has a significantly bigger rotor that enables a high output even at low wind speeds.


Future plans

With a working prototype on the one hand and enthusiastic feedback from the outdoor community on the other, I am now looking forward to continue the project and make the Micro Wind Turbine available to more people. I am currently looking for partners to develop the concept further and refine it towards a marketable product. The Micro Wind Turbine does not require any injection molded components and can be manufactured with very little investment cost. The scale could be easily adapted for varying scenarios or a communal use.


Awards

Prix BG Ingénieurs Conseils


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