After a successful round of tests conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts-based FloDesign Wind now plans on raising another round of funding later this year to deploy and test the performance of its 150-kilowatt turbines.
FloDesign has tested a prototype wind turbine based on jet engine technology that is "three to four times" more efficient than the traditional three-bladed horizontal axis wind turbines.
The new design generates as much power as a wind turbine with blades twice as big in diameter.
FloDesign wraps its wind-turbine blades with a shroud which operate on the principle that separating the air into two streams (one going through the blades and one going around them) creates a vortex at the tail-end of the turbine when the two streams converge back into one. It is that vortex that then adds extra 'pull' on the turbine blades, causing them to spin more and/or at greater efficiency.
A fin at the top of the turbine allows it to spin freely in the wind, without the need for motorized alignment. FloDesigns is also less affected by off-axis wind flow or turbulent wind conditions.
Engineers at FloDesign say their turbine can operate efficiently at both low wind speeds, when larger turbines do not spin, and at very high wind speeds when larger turbines normally brake then lock down, to prevent fatal turbine damage.
And while traditional turbines require large spacing, FloDesign's turbines can be spaced closer together, increasing the amount of power that can be generated per acre of land.
On the production end, unlike turbines that require multiple trucks and specialized movers to bring the turbine blades, nacelles, and towers to the location, FloDesign is working so that their turbines can be disassembled to fit onto a single truck.
At a recent panel event in Boston, FloDesign CEO Stanley Kawalski said the company will likely seek a series B round of $25 million in late 2009. "I think it's exciting that there's an oligopoly (among wind turbine suppliers)," said Kowalski.
"There is a resistance to change and that's how things disrupt and we hope to be one of the disruptors."