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When Turbines Sprout Wings and Fly

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Circle 8 TurbineWind turbines, the tall white things that sat spinning in the fields; the things you counted on the long car rides as a kid, could possibly be obsolete in the near future thanks to the brilliant mind of Dr. Richard Ruiterkamp, Dutch astrophysicist.

Dr. Ruiterkamp has developed the first ever “flying” wind turbine, resembling a glider attached to a tether, of sorts. The tether, attached at the base to a generator, allows the glider to fly in a ‘circle 8’ pattern. This movement is converted by the generator into energy.

Traditional wind turbines that sit on the ground have no mobility, and they sit far below the wind. Sitting so far below the wind requires turbines to be built very high, and there will always be limitations on this technology, because you can only build these so high before you have to stop. The gliding turbine can capture more wind because it is flying at a much greater height. This allows it to generate more energy, up to eight times more energy than traditional turbines.

Dr. Ruiterkamp explained that some 92 percent of material involved in “conventional” wind turbines is waste, because only around 8 percent of the material is working on capture.

“When you take the actual blades on conventional turbines, only 30 percent, or the tip of the blade, is doing 100 percent of the work,” said Dr. Ruiterkamp, who received his PhD in astrophysics from Leiden University.

The traditional turbine has limitations that the newest design does not. The fact that the flying turbine can be used off shore as well as traditionally, opens up new doors. These small robot drones could truly bring an end to detrimental emissions, worldwide.

With traditional turbines weighing in at roughly 120 tons, the flying turbine doesn’t tip the scale, coming in at an impressive 0.4 of a ton.

Dr. Ruiterkamp also has his own company, Ampyx Power, that has been testing autonomous drones to fly in the Netherlands. People believing in this work are sponsoring Dr. Ruiterkamp, such as World Wide Fund for Nature. Along with the crowdfunding done by his own company and a secured European Commission Horizon 2020 money, he is in good hands and ready to fly!

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