Wind Turbine in the Sky

Wind Turbine in the Sky
The Canadian company Magenn will ship the first commercial flying wind turbine this year. The first Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) model will be able to produce about 4kW of clean power (enough for a small community) and will stay in the air at an altitude of approximately 1000 feet thus eliminating one of the big obstacles of existing wind turbines – aesthetics.

MARS will be based on an inflatable structure design filled with helium and will be connected to the ground using a strong cable which will also transfer the electricity created by its two rotors which will also supply additional lift when spinning in a wind. The aerodynamic effect that produces additional lift is called the Magnus Effect. The effect, which was first discovered by the German physicist Heinrich Magnus in 1853, is responsible for creating lift when a spherical or cylindrical object is spun while moving in a fluid. For instance a baseball curve ball pitch uses the Magnus effect. A large object like the MARS creates substantial lift, so much so that the device should actually work in a wind and stay stable, without using a lifting gas.

The MARS is actually less efficient than the best ground based wind turbines although the fact that it can be deployed above ground mechanical turbulence helps it increase its basic efficiency. One the other hand it is portable and should be very simple to install operate and maintain and fairly inexpensive. The MARS will require however a refill of its helium every six months or so which should not be very complicated and cost only a few hundred dollars at today’s helium prices.  

TFOT recently covered several green energy projects and technologies including the gigantic Thames Estuary Wind Farm, the Heliotube Solar Concentrator, the Sphelar – Spherical Solar Cell and the Quietrevolution Helical Wind Turbine.  
A video of the MARS on a field test could be found here. More information on the MARS could be found on the Magenn website.
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About the author

Iddo Genuth

Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.

View all articles by Iddo Genuth