Monday, April 14, 2008

Going with the Flo

In a 1973 interview Buckminster Fuller provided a beautiful description of our planetary energy system. He began by noting that physical Universe is in fact, energy that can neither be created nor destroyed. Consequently, there can never be a "lack" of energy in eternally regenerative Universe. Rather any perceived "crisis" stems from our inability to understand our full menu of options.

Bucky describes the wind as sun energy temporarily invested in special local patterns. It is the most universally available form of solar energy and by far its strongest source (the energy released by some hurricanes in one minute, he reminds us, is equal to the energy stored in the combined nuclear stockpiles of the U.S. and Russia at that time). He refers to the wind as one of Nature's ways of storing solar radiation. Of course, a major challenge facing wind energy engineers is finding a way to store wind energy. Bucky notes that farms across the U.S. once stored wind energy by pumping water from wells into elevated water tanks.

It is unfortunate, he observes, that rural electrification programs contributed to the demise of windmills on farms just about the time that the U.S. aeronautical industry was getting off the ground. Had that not been the case he mused, the application of modern aerodynamics would have led to revolutionary windmill designs.

You can listen to the entire interview at the Buckminster Fuller Digital Collection. (GW)

Local Company Finds Better Way to Capture Wind Energy

March 26, 2008

Wilbraham-Based Research and Development Firm Receives Funding for New Wind Turbine Concept

Wilbraham, MA - The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) is making a $500,000 investment to help Wilbraham-based FloDesign Corporation develop and commercialize its new energy-producing wind turbine. The new design breaks power-producing limits previously set by conventional propeller-based wind turbines. FloDesign has developed a turbine capable of harnessing Nor’easter gale-force winds in sub-zero conditions.

“Our design allows for the use of a smaller, more durable blade,” says Dr. Michael J. Werle, FloDesign’s Chief Scientist. “The smaller blade is capable of producing energy at both lower and higher wind speeds. The configuration is applicable for both land and ocean configurations.” Werle adds, “Our robust design allows closer turbine spacing that results in 2-3 times higher energy production per acre of land/water over current designs.”

MTC’s approval this week of a $500,000 convertible loan will allow FloDesign to formally launch FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation, the organization responsible for the development of the new wind turbine product.

“We are all very excited,” FloDesign’s CEO, Stanley Kowalski III observes. “FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation is going to revolutionize the way we capture energy from the wind.” He goes on to say, “Our wind turbine will not only produce more wind energy, it will also do it with less impact on the environment. Our turbines are smaller, can function in a variety of climates, and can work closer to the ground.”

The new wind turbine also looks different than a conventional propeller turbine. FloDesign’s model is enclosed in a shroud, which reduces noise when it is functioning, and does not pose a risk to air-born wildlife such as birds and bats.

“It’s really a disruptive technology,” comments FloDesign’s CTO, Dr. Walter Presz. Presz, a recognized mechanical expert and professor at Western New England College, further notes that “our new wind turbine can more efficiently extract energy from over twice as much wind, when compared to open propellers.”

“We are proud to support FloDesign in its efforts to develop and bring this exciting new wind technology to market,” said Warren Leon, Director of MTC’s Renewable Energy Trust. “Not only is the company advancing clean energy technology, its facility will create new clean energy jobs for the Commonwealth’s growing clean energy cluster.”

This spring, FloDesign Wind Turbine will begin producing and testing models of the new wind turbines in their research and development facility. Once FloDesign validates their test model, they will begin the process of building full-scale prototypes for use in Massachusetts-based wind farms. (Click here to see video showing how the technology works).

For additional information on FloDesign’s new wind turbine, or to schedule an interview contact Stanley Kowalski or visit

FloDesign Inc. is an R&D company that utilizes state-of-the-art, aerospace technologies to develop, prototype, patent and market new products. Since 1990 FloDesign has successfully developed products for companies like Sikorsky Aircraft, Sound Solutions, Stage III Technologies, FN Manufacturing, Wardwell and Rolls Royce.


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