MEMS Wind Turbine Array and Scalable Power Generation Unit for Facile Deployment on Urban Infrastructure

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Several green initiatives have been attempted, to advance the cause of environmental friendliness of building constructions in contemporary urban landscapes worldwide. Here, a technology is proposed, to harness the power of air draughts (from tiny wisps to gale-force types) by deploying massive planar arrays of microscopic electric power generation turbines using micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) fabrication technology. The array shall be manufactured in a form that has two semi-transparent laminated panes; the top one (L1) is the array of wind turbines, while the bottom one (L2) serves as the substrate (for structural rigidity) and the martix for energy transport over a network of transmission lines (TL).

Every element (unit cell) in the L1 array comprises a 4-blade transparent, quartz rotor attached to a coil wound about its axle. This plays within a stator winding of 3 poles, effectively functioning as a DC or induction dynamo. TLs thread across L2 to carry the electric power from the stator coils. Power from the several wind turbines is aggregated using an arrangement of power combiners, in an X-mas tree topology. Different gauges and characteristics are identified for the TLs depending on the power handling requirements at each level of power multiplexing.

The typical window pane has a dimension of 5'×4'; each unit cell has a size measuring 0.5 mm, and about 7 million of these can be fabricated into such a window dimension. For a magnetic flux of the order of a few mWb, and an angular frequency of few 100 rpm during a nornal breeze, a few turns of conductor yields an EMF of a few millivolts at the elemental level. Hence, each panel has the potential to generate a few kV even with conventional MEMS fabrication techniques and use of non-exotic magnetic and conductor materials.

The design is modular, with integrated power conditioning units such as an inverter to obtain AC power; or a converter to realize a rated DC potential; along with the means to store the energy in rechargable batteries over charging circuits, all of these are housed within the window frame, and makes for a modular design that can be deployed in homes and offices in a typical urban environment, in single or multiple units. Standard power connectivity interfaces are provisioned to enable such scalability.

Given their non-obtrusive and space-itensive attributes in the existing urban topography, this MEMS technology shall prove to be most appealing to harness the energy of wind, in comparison to conventional large-format wind turbines and wind farms. The energy conversion efficiency is many orders higher in the former, given the comparative dimensions on either side of the energy transduction equation; this makes the transducer respond to even tiny draughts with encouraging results. A mass-production of this technology should sway the cost in favour of a higher RoI, and the break-even point can be attained earlier that other renewable energy options such as solar photoelectric cells. The non-polluting nature of this technology gives it a certain edge over all current energy generation options known to mankind.


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  • Name:
    Ga Shanmugha Sundaram
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Drs. G A Shanmugha Sundaram,
    T Rajagopalan,
    D S Harish Ram,
    B Binoy Nair,
    R Gandhiraj
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Shanmugha Sundaram's favorite design and analysis tools:
    LabView, Matlab, Simulink, Scilab, CDF/Mathematica, Maple
  • Shanmugha Sundaram's hobbies and activities:
    Aerospace, astronomy
  • Shanmugha Sundaram is inspired by:
    Aerospace; Green technologies in power generation; Global energy consortium
  • Software used for this entry:
    Open Office Draw on Ubuntu
  • Patent status: