Innovative Mechanism Improves Off-Shore Wind Turbines' Safety

Markus Mueller and Alasdair McDonald of the University of Edinburgh solved one of the fundamental engineering issues faced by builders of offshore wind turbines. They developed a new electric generator that is much cheaper, lighter and reliable than anything seen up to now in the industry.

To exploit the new design, a company called NGenTec was formed mid of Nov under the administration of Derek Shepherd, a former managing director of Aggreko International, a Glasgow-based supplier of diesel-fueled generators.  “Our technology has the potential to revolutionize the renewable energy industry by making wind power cheaper and more reliable and greatly increasing the efficiency of wind turbines for electricity companies” declared Shepherd.

At the University’s Institute of Energy Systems, Markus Mueller and Alasdair McDonald developed a mechanism that will make useless the gearbox used in conventional turbines to connect the blades to the generator. The problems on the gearbox occur in harsh sea conditions when it breaks because of the forces it needs to sustain. This problem leads to costly repairs. The two scientists found a way to connect the blades directly to the generator via an axle. The new generator has a new positioning of the magnets and of the copper coils reducing the entire weight of the assembly by half. The prototype proved to be working very efficiently on a turbine, so it’s very promising.

Derek Douglas, an entrepreneur that joined NGenTec for fund raising said: “Although our technology has applications onshore, offshore is where we think there is the most added value. It means that you don’t need such big towers and such deep foundations.” NGenTec comes with a perfect new technology to revolutionize the wind harvesting industry.

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