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Windmill 7

Air-pump windmill

(Click to enlarge photo)

This is a completely different idea exploring the notion of using windmills to produce something other than electricity. My reasoning is that other forms of energy can be easier to manipulate and store and, by using something like compressed air, we can definitely eliminate that old enemy - the gearbox! This machine produces compressed air to drive an air turbine at ground level. Although producing compressed air is not very efficient we have to remember that wind energy is for free so that doesn't really matter, it was a very cheap machine to build which reduces the all-important cost per Watt.

The compressor is a modified four-stroke engine from a lawn mower! As hundreds of thousands of these were made it was an attractive idea to keep the price down because they are readily available from scrap yards. Another big attraction was that power taken from the propeller could be varied by altering the reservoir pressure, this means that the machine could always work at maximum possible output (good matching) which is more of a problem to achieve when making electricity, particularly at high wind speeds.

(Note that this machine only had a very crude propeller for testing with no variation of pitch along its length.)


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