This 3D-printed mobile wind turbine could end up paying for your 3D printer

7 Comments

What do you get when you combine a cleantech idea, mobility and 3D printing? I suppose you could create lots of different things, but today’s answer to that question is the AirEnergy 3D: A portable wind turbine that you create by printing many of the parts with a 3D printer.

AirEnergy 3D is a Kickstarter project seeking funds, and with 28 days to go it has already crossed the 50 percent funding mark. It has raised £10,597 ($17,726) of its £19,000 goal. The project was started by Omni3d, a 3D printer manufacturer from western Poland that wanted to create a 3D printed product that’s worth more than an actual 3D printer. The turbine is capable of generating up to 300 Watts of power, so over time, an AirEnergy 3D could recoup far more than the cost of a printer.
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Since the turbine itself is made from 3D-printed parts, you can actually tweak or customize the design before printing: Omni3d is making the base plans available. Of course, there are electronics involved to make the turbine work, so you don’t print the full product. Instead, the project will include a type of base station for power management as well as Wi-Fi connectivity so you can monitor production on a smartphone.

AirEnergy 3D backpack

The AirEnergy 3D is also mobile: You can package it up in a special backpack, according to the project page, and move it around to various locations. That means the unit can tag along on trips, be used in remote areas or be placed in different areas based on where the wind currents are most readily available.

Early bird packages with lower funding amounts were snapped up already but there are still some available for £299.

7 Comments

Sunil Kandlikar

Some data provided on Kickstarter is a good starting point for some calculations to begin validating the turbine.

From the data provided:
Size of the helical turbine – 2.5m X 1.2m
Wind speed for rated power – 10 m/s
Power downrating is a cubic function of wind speed. (1/2 speed means 1/8 power)

So,
1. We should move to ND, SD, MN, IA, NE, KS, OK or TX where 10m/s is a possibility (most of rest of the USA and Europe is too low), AND
2. Set up the turbine on the roof of a 30 floor building or build a tower 250 – 300 feet high high, OR
3. Down rate the turbine for an average ground wind speed factor of 1/3 (or less) or 1/27 of 300W =~ 11w. This is enough to run your laptop (maybe).

These ( 2 and 3 above) are the choices facing folk supporting the Kickstarter. Good Luck!

On the other hand, AirEnergy might deserve your support for their effort in trying and testing new ideas and technology experiments (even though they are guaranteed to fail as products). After all this, I believe, was the original intent of Kickstarter before it was hijacked as a sales channel for new products.

Jake Sunding

So lets assume it makes 300 watts all the time. Let’s also assume that the base station, printer, material, inverter, and installation all cost $1000. I pay 15 cents per kilowatt hr. Payback in hours is
$1000/($0.15/kWh x 0.3 kW) = 22000 hrs. = 925 days = 2.5 yrs, ignoring the time value of money. Feel free to change the assumptions to find out what your payback period would be based on your electrical rates, the expected levelized wattage of the turbine (depends on your location), and up front costs. Note that no wind turbine makes rated wattage 100% of the time.

wesoff

Next project is 3D printing 8-track tapes. Small vertical axis wind turbines are inherently inefficient. I will eat a bug if this VAWT becomes a commercial success.

dziadzie

@Sunil – we will be posting all the calculations soon on our Kickstarter page – please do not look at the proof of concept turbine when thinking about this project – the turbine we will send out to backers will be 2,5 meters high and will be highly optimised! :)

Sunil Kandlikar

Repeating highly questionable topics like this one severely undermine Gigaom’s credibility. Back of the envelope calculations will show that a small helical windmill cannot generate 300 watts of electricity. The Kickstarter page for this claims a ‘light’ has been lit with a prototype and shows a LED that needs milli or even micro watts power to light up. There is no evidence to demonstrate scale up. The deal is a scam to push their 3D printer. 3D printers are a dime a dozen in the markets. So, why all this free publicity to a lying product?

Rafiki Cai

@Sunil Kandikar:

It would have given veracity to your forceful critique, had you shared your ‘back of envelope calculations; so that others could have followed your line of logic.

Another approach you could have taken, was to use this forum to ask the project team
a) how they arrived at their projections and b) what path they see from “LED to 3” (300 watts).

No matter how confident and knowledgable we are, there’s always the possibility that others can see the connection between two dots; that we ourselves can not see.

——

Lastly, this is an open source project. Why not place your brilliance at the service of what is possible and what needs to happen to bolster this effort. That would be a more appreciated and constructively helpful leverage of resources.

I trust that the AirEnergy team will chime in, to help clarify the matter raised. I will personally reach out to them and urge them to do so.

Namaste.
Rafiki Cai

Sunil Kandlikar

@RafikiCai

My request for additional information has been ignored on the Kickstarter site. There are other outstanding requests and I look forward to responses to these. Yesterday, the project folk added a comment that they are ‘gathering’ information to respond to technical questions. The technical questions are being asked most basic whose answers are prerequisite to the calculations on which the claim of 300W was originally made. In any case, here is the ‘back of my envelope’ –

most efficient large wind turbines can extract about 300W/m2 at about 100m height when the wind is steadily flowing at about 15m/sec (or 54 kmph). (See this for example – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestas_V90-3MW).

For AirEnergy device it means that you will need a device that is at least 1m X 1m (forget backpacks) and a windflow rate of 54 kmph (you don’t see that kind of wind speed your deck unless there is an ugly storm underway). You will have to take it to a wind tunnel to generate the power for you. This is NOT a viable generator for use by you or me at our homes (unless you live in a wind tunnel). This Emperor has no clothes, @RafikiCai.

I suspect this Kickstarter is way of getting rid of a stock of 3d printers on unsuspecting, and technically naive folk. I do expect Gigaom to verify the claims before giving this (o any other) product the credibility by including it in their coverage. Unfortunately it seems that Gigaom and Mr. Tofel are happy tooting someone else’s trumpet without verifying the foul wind blowing through it.

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