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Power Science Technology

Scientists Are Developing the World's Biggest Wind Turbine With 656-Ft. Long Blades (latimes.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes from an LATimes article: Efforts to increase wind power mean that turbine blades are getting bigger and bigger. But a new design in the works takes the idea to levels most people can barely imagine: Blades up to 656.2 feet long -- more than two football fields. Today's longest blades are 262.5 feet. The blades at Imperial County's Ocotillo wind farm, which sends electricity to San Diego, are 173.9 feet long. "We call it the extreme scale," Eric Loth, a University of Virginia professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said of the planned mega-blades. "There's nothing like it." The blades would look much different look from today's wind turbines. They wouldn't face the wind but would go downwind, aligning the blades to flow with the wind instead of fighting it. And instead of a single stiff blade, each blade would be broken into segments, allowing it to be more easily fabricated. In addition, the concept would allow the blades to "morph" -- spread out when the wind is blowing lightly to capture as much power as possible.
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Scientists Are Developing the World's Biggest Wind Turbine With 656-Ft. Long Blades

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:48AM (#51731471)

    Back-converted units are funny.

    • by Rob Bos ( 3399 )

      As a Canadian, we see this shit all the time. "Now add 454g of flour" .. that number is WAY too specific. Yep, 1 pound. A coke is 591ml or 355ml, a cup is 240ml .. argh.

      Payback's a bitch. :)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The UJW (units justice warrior) strikes again.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Indeed, I was quite intrigued by the 0.2 ft accuracy and also did the calculation
      What a waste of resources to back-convert.
  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Saturday March 19, 2016 @10:53AM (#51731483)
    But a turbine that big will steal all the wind power then make the Earth stop spinning while also propelling it further out into a wider orbit and we'll all freeze and die!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Who, exactly, is saying this? Why is this +4 Insightful? It's some idiocy made up as a laughable strawman argument and it's +4 Insightful?
      • Who, exactly, is saying this? You are.
        Why is this +4 Insightful? Heaven knows.
        It's some idiocy made up as a laughable strawman argument--- Hey, don't talk about yourself that way.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Having worked on several planning consultations for wind farms, I have come across the following:

        1) OH NO! It will reduce the amount of wind!
        2) OH NO! It will increase the amount of wind!
        3) OH NO! It will scare off birds!
        4) OH NO! It will attract off birds!
        5) OH NO! It will drive down property prices!
        6) OH NO! It will drive up property prices!
        7) OH NO! It will drive people out of the area!
        8) OH NO! It will attract eco-warriors and hippies to the area!
        9) OH NO! It will drive off tourists!
        10) OH NO! The roads

      • Who, exactly, is saying this? Why is this +4 Insightful? It's some idiocy made up as a laughable strawman argument and it's +4 Insightful?

        It's currently rated +1 "Funny", which was the intention. If I hadn't already posted, I would have modded it up as "Funny", too.

        Tune your BS- and sarcasm-meters. This isn't FARK, but "Funny" posts can be quite useful. The poster was mocking the paid shills that come in and mass-post when topics like this come up.

        FARK's open mocking of Trolls and Shills has significantly reduced their numbers there... unless you click on the "Politics" tab. That is, they are stuck in the corner with their ilk.

        • We don't read that site, and aren't required to. This is a different site with different posters. At least you aren't using reddit insider slang without explaining what it means.
      • by fisted ( 2295862 )

        It seems like a moron was successfully cued as the subject said.

        Take this whoooosh from me and treat it with care.

    • It won't do that, but I'm pretty sure there's some environment impact to massive wind farms. It probably does change wind patterns to some extent. It might even impact the local climate somewhat.

      We'll probably find these impacts as more development comes in.

      Of course, this is not a reason to stop. Our current fossil burning also impacts things.

      • Oh no! These big turbines will attract giant crazy spaniards on donkeys, armed with lances...
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The big problem with large bladed wind turbines is wing tip velocity and the subsequent noise. So the limit is that and nothing else and most certainly not appearance. So the trick is large blade but at a slow rotation. This is why there is a focus on engineering better vertical wind turbines rather that rather than large bladed horizontal axis wind turbines. The vertical wind turbines also have a huge advantage of having the generator at ground level, as well as being able to be placed much closer togethe

    • That's the modern Trumpublican thinking!

    • But we need to prepare for when the sun expands later in it's life so that the Earth isn't burnt to a crisp!

  • You could put this on the Eiffel Tower, but it's kind of short. The Eiffel Tower is 1,063 ft tall, the towers they're planning for this are 1,574 ft.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      this is a nerd site. please use non-stupid units.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        this is a nerd site. please use non-stupid units.

        The Eiffel Tower is 189 smoots tall, the towers they're planning for this are 282 smoots.

      • Sorry. The Eiffel Tower is 3.543 football fields tall, the tower for the wind turbine is 5.246 football fields tall.

        • Well, actually the size of a football field is not standardized. It has a min and max length.

          PS I'm talking about real football of course

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        How about KLOC's per kilogram?

    • Should be a great view from the top if you don't mind the noise, vibrations, etc. You could build an amusement park around the tower. Zip lines, for-fee hiking trails up to the top, some ski runs etc.

      • Considering that the thing has to be able to turn through at least 180 degrees (but more likely 360) to face the wind, hanging anything from it at an angle -- like zip lines or ski slopes -- seems like a bad idea unless you intend for the blades to hit it.

      • How would you build a zip line from the top of a windmill tower and still allow the windmill to rotate into the wind?

    • The new blades will be one furlong in length. So now I'm wondering how much electricity they plan to produce in a fortnight.
  • Make everyone wear beanies with propellers on top. Not only will it generate a lot of energy, but everyone will be too busy laughing at one another to start wars.

    • If history has taught me anything it's that looking silly is no hindrance to starting wars.

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        In fact, it's a reason to start one. You fuckers are wearing your caps the wrong way around... jihad time.
      • Yeah, the Hussars looked pretty silly. I guess they wanted to be seen from far-away when approaching.

        And the British Re-coats. Standing in lines. And both sides have muskets... Silly silly silly. Stop that right now.

        • Copy Edit: RED-coats

        • Actually at that time battle fields where covered with smoke so thick, you could not see a Redcoat 20 yards away.
          However Napoleon showed: stealth/hiding/crawling pays off.

          • Actually at that time battle fields where covered with smoke so thick, you could not see a Redcoat 20 yards away.
            However Napoleon showed: stealth/hiding/crawling pays off.

            Wasn't the color RED chosen to hide any bleeding from fellow soldiers in the line? Y'know, that sight could be a bit demoralizing. Perhaps this (possibly apocryphal?) explanation could carry some weight?

            And Napoleon, the cannoneer who somehow rose to be Emperor –twice. I hadn't heard of his tactics outside of barrage. I don't disbelieve it, as those are good tactics, but have never heard of them.

            Napoleon DID take to canning food by putting boiling soup into empty wine bottles, then sealing them wi

            • Wasn't the color RED chosen to hide any bleeding from fellow soldiers in the line?
              Every country/king had different colours, e.g. Netherlands was Orange and Preusen/Prussia Blue.

              I hadn't heard of his tactics outside of barrage.
              He was the first ordering the soldiers to forget "heroics" and lay down flat on the stomach on the ground while fighting.

  • If the technology works, Loth wants to avoid putting the big-blade facilities on land. Instead they would be put offshore — some 20 to 25 miles from the coast....

    Even if the titanic turbines pass the subscale modeling tests in 2019, Loth said it would take "probably 10, 15 years" before the first facility would be up and running.

    It's at least 15 years away and they know they'll never get approval to build them on land. But still a reasonable approach where the conditions are right. It's almost like they're trying to find a workable and cost effective solution, unlike other alternatives that depend on subsidies.

    • by burni2 ( 1643061 )

      Putting a wind turbine offshore is a huge undertaking and maintaining it is also not effortless.

    • they know they'll never get approval to build them on land

      I see you've never been out to West Texas.

    • On land wind turbines make not much sense, except you are in a country with no coast or at a special windy position.

      Considering the size of those things they would be a problem for air traffic, to.

      And bottom line, considering how big the tower is on which the turbines need to be placed, I wonder if that energy wise and money wise makes any sense. But well, usually with "size" the energy/money cost-benefit relation becomes better.

  • I just cringe, thinking of all of the Cesnas and Pipers that will be taken out when they try to land on this thing.

    • OK, I'll bite. I know some kinda dodgy private pilots, but nobody even remotely insane enough to attempt to land on a rotating blade, no matter how long or flat.

      Who the hell are you hanging out with?

      • OK, I'll bite. I know some kinda dodgy private pilots, but nobody even remotely insane enough to attempt to land on a rotating blade, no matter how long or flat.

        Who the hell are you hanging out with?

        Hopefully with others who practice less-insane hobbies, like skydivers, who would jump out of that plane & quick-deploy before the dodgy pilot attempted this.

        (I used to skydive.)

  • From TFA:

    The project raises concern among bird lovers, who have long decried the number of birds and bats killed by wind turbines. The proposition of humongous facilities makes conservation groups nervous.

    "The higher you go, you start potentially impacting more migratory birds that otherwise would have flown over the tops of [smaller] turbines," said Michael Parr, vice president and chief conservation officer for the American Bird Conservancy.

    Researchers acknowledge the anxiety over how 656.2-foot blades â" officially called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotors â" would affect the environment.

    If the technology works, Loth wants to avoid putting the big-blade facilities on land. Instead they would be put offshore â" some 20 to 25 miles from the coast.

    "I really want to focus on going far enough offshore that we're away from the migratory patterns of the birds," Loth said.

    But Parr said an offshore wind farm might not be an improvement.

    "The problem with offshore turbines is that it's virtually impossible to know and track over time what impact they're having [on bird deaths] because any birds that get struck will fall directly into the ocean and be washed away by the currents or get eaten by sharks," he said.

    - seriously...

    I wonder if these bird lovers ever considered what coal and diesel power plant pollution does to birds, migratory or otherwise? How many birds die, I wonder, because of the pollution that is spewed into the atmosphere by the billions of tons around the world?

    This turbine is a fine concept I think, though I think nuclear is the way to go of-course, why not build more wind turbines, especially in the oceans. Do it if it works. The birds will learn to avoid the turbine blades but the

  • Regarding dangers to wildlife, will dragons be safe from it?

  • But not longer than two Canadian football fields!

  • who will be the first BASE jumper to die jumping from the tower and how many days after its built will that take place?

    • who will be the first BASE jumper to die jumping from the tower and how many days after its built will that take place?

      I will not bet against you on this.

      Ah, but how about a flying-suit crazy attempting to buzz close to one, between the slowly rotating blades? Wind farms are built in valleys between mountains, so this is a realistic scenario. Also realistic is that the flying-suit guy will not understand the flow of compressible fluids (he'll hit a low-pressure zone on one side or the other – one of the three blade-following zones that spirals).

  • The end zones are in bounds and part of the playing field.
  • ...describe a physical object?

    They wouldn't face the wind but would go downwind, aligning the blades to flow with the wind instead of fighting it.

    What the fuck does that mean? How does a blade "flow"? It is a rigid object. It sits in the wind flow. And if a wind turbine fights the wind, then it isn't really a turbine, is it? A blade has a length, width, and thickness. Which is aligned with the wind? Is the windflow axially aligned or radially aligned? What is aligned? If a typical wind turbine fa

  • wouldn't wind shear be a really big concern?

  • by cowdung ( 702933 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @05:31AM (#51736059)

    This article has a diagram of the proposed design:

    http://www.sandiegouniontribun... [sandiegouniontribune.com]

  • slashdot should have an automated Imperial to ISO converter...

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