Wind Power Unlike Any Other On Horizon

SheerWind is a Chaska, Minn.-based startup with a wind power generator concept that looks nothing like any wind turbine you have ever seen. The venture’s “Invelox” technology recently won the 2011 CleanTech Open’s Sustainability Award for the North Central Region. SheerWind’s founder and CEO, Daryoush Allaei, has 25 years of research and development experience, including leading projects funded by the U.S. departments of Defense and Energy.

Interestingly, his technical expertise is not in wind power, or even renewable energy, but in systems dynamics–specifically, noise and vibration. He first developed the idea for Invelox in late 2008, while working on a proposal for a project to monitor wind turbine vibration, in response to a Department of Energy solicitation.

“DOE wanted a technology that could monitor the vibration of the [wind turbine] blades, to help them manage wind energy more cost-effectively,” Allaei said to us in a recent interview. “When I was reviewing what they were asking for, I just thought, ‘Wow! They are trying to solve the wrong problem.’ They were asking me to go 60 to 100 feet up in the air, when what I really needed to do was bring [the cost of wind energy] down for them. I thought something had to change. So I closed my door and I sat down and thought about what else we could do that makes more sense. That’s how I came up with this idea of harvesting wind on the ground.”

image via SheerWind

The result is what to looks to be a pretty novel approach to generating wind power. Allaei’s “Invelox” technology (named for increasing velocity) looks more like a giant phonograph player than a wind turbine. Essentially, it works by capturing wind, funneling it into a tunnel to increase velocity, and channeling it into a ground-based turbine.

Allaei typically describes the system by comparing it to a hydroelectric dam:

“If you look at a hydro dam, the basic principle is to collect water and then, down below there are small openings where the water is allowed to escape. By simple physics, when you do that, the water speeds up. It is in that small opening in dams where the generator is placed. The generator is small, but it makes a very large amount of power because the water is moving very fast through that small opening. Invelox is basically an air dam that collects wind instead of water.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

  • http://twitter.com/petedanko Pete Danko

    Some strong conceptual similarities here with the Oklahoma project we reported on a few weeks ago:http://www.earthtechling.com/2011/11/towerless-turbine-oklahoman-says-ok/

  • G-wtg

    what is the typical power output of the devices?

    • John B.

      As it states in the graphic above, 7.2 MW per tower, 10 acres/tower.u00a0 If scaled down for residential use, a free-standing unit could be practical for homes on a large plot of land (1 acre or more).u00a0 IF the proportions hold true, and assuming the technology delivers on the projected power generation (and my calculations are correct), a unit that can deliver typical residential service (200 amp service) would require about 1500 sq. ft.u00a0 I can see designing residential roofs around this design to make the home more energy self-sufficient.

  • Athena

    This design also looks like it would be more “bird-friendly”; incredibly important from both sides of looking at it…

  • Cominco

    seems like a very good concept and should work well. lookingforward to hearing more

  • http://treasurycafe.blogspot.com david k waltz

    The ability to use the power as baseload (supplemented by nat. gas) overcomes one of the major problems with renewable energies. Good luck!nn

  • Phillip Luebke

    It looks like it collects wind coming from any direction, but the output is in one direction only, at a much higher speed (15 MPH input to 60 MPH output in the illustration). What are the ramifications of that?

    • John B.

      Phillip, the velocity is increased because the (cross-sectional) area (of the flow) is decreasing.u00a0 On the output side, the process is reversed and the air slows down as the cross sectional area of the flow again increases.u00a0 To do otherwise would violate some important laws of physics.

      • John B.

        Additionally, much of that kinetic energy from the high velocity is converted into electrical energy from the turbine/gen set.u00a0 So minimal increase in cross-sectional area is needed to slow the air to 15 MPH or less.u00a0 Total conversion of the wind energy (not practical) would mean the output would consist of stagnant air that would have to be evacuated from the system somehow.

  • W_lien

    How are are rain and snow effects addressed in the design?

  • Ogdenmicro

    Concept looks great, we need an acceptable new energy idea that the public will embrace rather than complain about the bird-bats-bees-butterfield-noise.  Of course it all comes down to dollars making sense.  I like your thinking outside of the box and wish you great success in getting it developed and place in the field. 
    If you every need any installation help, feel free to call me:  Gary Ogden ogdenmicro@aol.com  DBA: Micro Service Group    I’ve also great contacts with those in other trades that can insure that it would be done in an orderly- safe manner.
    @aol:disqus 
    This is the best Alternative concept I’ve seen so far in regards to not using the blade 230ft towers.

  • Mk

    Six times better than perpetual motion devices.  Pretty cool.  And the energy to get six times the power from a wind stream comes from WHERE?   The physics of aerodynamics will show that the air will flow around something instead of through it as soon as there is a little resistance.  That is why you can only recover a very small amount of ram air ( 1 % to 5% ) from any velocity.  The 90 degree bend in the system will create a greater loss than the gain from any ram effects.  Since it is impossible to make a perpetual motion device, these people took the leap to go six times beyond that.  Just imagine if we could do that with everything.  Your car would run forever and once it started, you could turn it off and it would accelerate on its own.  The physics is thoroughly flawed with what these people say.

  • Weimerob

    I have seen several 1.8MW towers strung with 500 meter spaceing between them a far cry from 100 acres per tower

  • Dean

    I belevie in this 600%.  The future for our nation is in the “wind”.  I would be one of the first to maybe purchase for my farm however would need to know costs, tax structures, etc.  Dean Ayres.  Leavenworth, Kansas  660048

  • Gunn Sinclair

    This comment is about suspicious fund-raising and media outreach activity by a person living in the
    Chaska, MN area. I want to make folks
    aware of this Doctor of Engineering who has stockpiled more than a million
    dollars (so far), ostensibly for promoting a “wind tube invention” which
    seems so lame in my opinion, that it
    must call into question what this man may really be doing.

    Why do I care?
    Well, because I’m trying to market the Real McCoy of enclosed wind
    turbines for building tops, etc., and it appears that this fellow is pooping in
    my back yard. After researching
    Sheerwind’s Invelox online and checking into the Dr.’s history of
    self-promotion, it appears to me that he could be serving the role of an
    impostor, using a series of red herrings and misinformation in order to take
    local Twin Cities media and “investors” for a ride.

    Folks, please check for yourself what this man’s
    intentions could be for the thousands of dollars he’s raising. Is investment money going merely to support a
    comfortable lifestyle here in America, or could some of the money end up doing
    something else, somewhere else down the road?
    I ask these questions because there’s only so much money one can
    legitimately spend trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Here in the Invelox, we have something that in
    my opinion deserves no money be spent at all, yet…it’s happening. Why? How?

    Ask an engineer specializing in wind turbine
    technology what this fellow is doing, and I believe you will be told that it
    makes no sense whatsoever; yet he is supposed to be a Doctor of Engineering. One blogger from a magazine said the Dr.’s
    concept is “worthless and his patent should be revoked.” The idea of pressurized air, also, is without
    merit and un-patentable; I found this out myself as a wind turbine patent
    holder. So, I’m going to keep my eye on
    this guy.
    http://www.hallmarkemporium.com

    Comment

    4 of 11

    Bernhard-Scheffler-83035

    January 25, 2013

    To call the Venturi effect “a
    patented process” belies a serious lack of understanding.

    As the MIT report states, the Sheer Wind technology is yet to be demonstrated
    — even at pilot level.

    Comment

    5 of 11

    terry-hallinan-70211

    January 25, 2013

    Bernhard Scheffler,

    Have you informed the U.S. Patent Office that Patent 7,811,048

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=7,811,048.PN.&OS=PN/7,811,048&RS=PN/7,811,048

    is worthless and should be revoked? :-)

    I have no dog in this fight since I believe no intermittent renewables are
    going to solve the problems facing the planet from use of fossil fuels but I
    would like to understand what you are claiming.

    Of course the Venturi effect is unpatentable but applications may be. Was
    there not some sort of demonstration or model to obtain the patent?

    Best, Terry

    “Martin Hansen, a wind energy expert at the Technical University of
    Denmark, disagrees. He says INVELOX will draw in and speed up the wind as
    claimed, but when the turbine is placed inside the ductwork it will create
    such high pressure that little additional air will be drawn into the device,
    making it a poor alternative to conventional turbine designs.”

    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/508136/ducted-wind-turbines-an-energy-game-changer/

  • http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/ Mike Barnard

    Sheerwind Invelox gets a place on my ratings board for wind ‘innovations’, but it’s not a good place.

    http://barnardonwind.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/good-and-bad-bets-new-wind-technologies-rated/

  • http://www.sterling-energy.com/ kristahiles

    Wind powers are a great source of energy and to produce electricity.
    More and more countries are installing them. Its installation also uses less
    space than others.

    Wind Energy