Apple has entered the market of wind power generation by patenting a concept which seems to be the first of its kind.
In a standard wind turbine, wind moves across blades that are shaped such that the air pressure is uneven on each side. This causes the blades to spin around a rotor. A rotor shaft turns a series of gears that increase the speed of the rotation, in the process spinning a generator to maximize electricity production. This has turned out to be one of the more effective ways to produce emission-free electricity, helping electricity generation from wind power grow 40-fold since the late 1990s.
But an issue of concern with wind is that it produces power intermittently, which means that sometimes there’s energy when it’s not needed and sometimes there’s no energy when it is needed.
The Apple concept is actually pretty simple. The wind turbine turns a shaft that then turns a device (with “one or more paddles, a propeller, a drum, and/or another component) immersed in a fluid chamber. This action would “agitate, circulate, and/or heat low-heat-capacity fluid.” This heated fluid can then be held until electricity is needed.
Even though Apple has been looking at avenues to power its various houses, this might be a costly option owing to the expenses that will be incurred in converting rotational energy to heat and then using that heat to generate electricity. This leads to a big question in development and testing about how the system compares in efficiency and cost to battery storage.
(Featured image source: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Pinwheel-Environmental-Technology-Energy-Wind-Power-123571)