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July 2, 2008 3:22 PM   Subscribe

A Philippe Starck designed Wind Turbine?
posted by Artw (35 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Look ma, an egg beater!
posted by stenseng at 3:34 PM on July 2, 2008

Oh wow. I'm glad he realized all his previous achievements were destroying the planet. (Seriously!)
posted by limeonaire at 3:42 PM on July 2, 2008

20-60% of a home's energy needs? How about some REAL numbers? How many KW/h will it produce on average? What wind speed do you need for it to become feasible? How loud is it? Is it designed to look pretty or catch the wind more efficiently? What are the dimensions? It looks like it's about a foot high. I think he spent more time on the packaging. Not impressed.
posted by Brodiggitty at 3:52 PM on July 2, 2008

I hate the convention of kilowatt-hours, and amp-hours (which are even more absurd, as you have to know voltage). Give me Joules, people, kilocalories, something meaningful. Okay, ergs are out. I know you can convert, but it seems like a bit of a cloak over reality. Since we're going to be living in an energy-deprived future, let's hash this out right now: I vote for the megajoule as our standard of measurement for when we knife some sentry, dozing on the roof, to steal his compound's solar panels. Excuse me, ranch.

"I may have taken a man's life, but we'll get maybe two megajoules out of this baby over a bright day." It'll be like The Road Warrior, but without internal combustion engines.
posted by adipocere at 4:08 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm currently research wind turbines to build one of my own. I'm particularly interested in HAWTs - horizontal axis wind turbines.

There's a reason why successful, modern HAWTs don't use two flat blades - they quickly destroy themselves through resonance and off-axis loads. As the turbine rotates through the prevailing wind direction, the blades are subjected to varying forces as they pass through various angles of attack against the prevailing wind directions.

Flat blades induce oscillations and serious off-axis loads - particularly with simple dual flat airfoil designs like this.

While all good turbines have to have a brake or regulator to prevent self-destruction from spinning too fast, you'd have to severely limit the speed in this design or else it'd tear itself apart.

The only known flat-bladed HAWTs I've ever seen work generally have three or more blades - and even those are known to be self destructive.

That thing looks like it was cast out of acrylic or something equally shiny - and brittle. (Which is why serious turbine designers use metal, fiber-reinforced composite plastics or carbon fiber composite laminates.

This design is a fucking joke. It's like he didn't even bother to look at any of the science or history of wind turbine design. Engineers have known about this stuff for decades. Even the much-touted Savanious rotors have issues with these problems.

And as a, ugh, "designer", I'm going to insist that form follow function. You forgot rule #1 of design.
posted by loquacious at 4:11 PM on July 2, 2008 [11 favorites]

You forgot rule #1 of design.

I don't think Philippe Stark ever read that chapter.
posted by twistedonion at 4:14 PM on July 2, 2008

oops, missed a c
posted by twistedonion at 4:16 PM on July 2, 2008

You should see his crime fighting robot suit.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on July 2, 2008

loquacious: maybe I'm incorrectly parsing this picture, but it sure looks like it has a vertical axis to me.
posted by aubilenon at 4:23 PM on July 2, 2008

The orientation is in reference to the wind utilzation direction. HAWTs can accept wind from any compass angle. Vertical turbines - currently the most common type, the familiar "windmill" shape - have to rotate to face the prevailing wind.
posted by loquacious at 4:28 PM on July 2, 2008

loquacious: I am not a wind turbine expert or anything, but that all my googling indicates that HAWTs are the ones that look like regular windmills (spinning around a horizontal axis, pointed at the wind) and VAWTs are the ones that look like eggbeaters (spinning around a vertical axis, pointing up).

The one in Starck's fakey pictures looks like an eggbeater. That is, it looks like it rotates around a vertical axis, like a two blade vertical squirrel cage fan.

I don't know enough about this to know if you just got the acronyms mixed up and the gist of what you are saying is still correct, or if you actually got the two types backwards and a whole different set of criticisms applies.
posted by aubilenon at 4:57 PM on July 2, 2008

VAWT are you talkink about, dahlinks.
posted by everichon at 5:06 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

*double checks*

Err, right I got that backwards, I'm a little distracted right now. Replace HAWT with VAWT.

Criticisms still apply. I've done a couple of small prototypes and designing reliable, durable wind turbines isn't easy.
posted by loquacious at 5:09 PM on July 2, 2008

Also: google-imaging for "vawt" yields pictures of windmills, while google-imaging for "hawt" predictably yields...other stuff.
posted by everichon at 5:09 PM on July 2, 2008

from: I'm left with this suspicion: the greater the involvement of a designer, the worse the object.

posted by Chuckles at 6:02 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

He sure is selling a bunch of his old crap that he's ashamed of on his website. Too bad, I wanted to believe.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:11 PM on July 2, 2008

I hate the convention of kilowatt-hours....Give me Joules...I vote for the megajoule as our standard of measuremen

1 kWh = 1000 W * 3600 seconds = 3.6 megajoules
posted by DU at 6:16 PM on July 2, 2008

Ugh. A two bladed VAWT made of what looks like acrylic. Might last a week in the wind and the sun. And those ports in the blades, are they meant to create an annoying whistle? That's what they'll do.

Personally, I prefer Norman Foster's and Porsche's work on wind turbines.

(oh, and loquacious, you should read anything by Hugh Piggott if you're thinking of building yourself.)

adipocere, I'd best not mention the efficiency term that US-based thermal power folks throw about: BTU per kWh; bleah! Watt-hour style units make a lot of sense for capacity and load planning; loads are usually on for hours, not seconds, so it results in less multiplying than would happen with SI units.
posted by scruss at 6:28 PM on July 2, 2008 [4 favorites]

Two items to consider re: design:
1) appearances determine neither efficiency nor durability.
2) if people think they like it, they will consume it.

Which means, personally, I'd hold off on lambasting its efficiency until I saw the performance curves; and...and...well, I admit the egg-beater design wouldn't be my first choice to grace my garage.
posted by madmatx at 8:18 PM on July 2, 2008

Designers do the work of engineers, but instead of learning about the empirically derived rules that model our universe and human material and construction standards, they pore over the work of other designers for several years, read french theory, and try desperately to self-actualize by generating something startling enough to dupe people in to paying incredible prices for it.
posted by phrontist at 12:16 AM on July 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

The average UK house uses about 12.5kWh/day, so 20% of that would be 2.5kWh/day = ~0.1kWh/hr, assuming a capacity factor of 25% then this thing would have to be rated at around 0.4kW boiler plate (maybe up to 1kW to hit the 60% figure). Using the 0.4kW figure, if Starck is planning to sell these at 400 euro, that represents an pretty low cost per kW for a small scale wind turbine, certainly comparable with anything else on the market, and its a market which in my experience is not producing top quality goods, i.e. microturbines often don't deliver their highest rated capacity and their capacity factor is often pretty low, especially once you stick them on a house. Bascially I'm not convinced by this, I've looked for a technical spec on various websites and they all just repeat the same thing - the rehashed press release in the link here. We need some data on performance, both lab tests and then eventual operational data before this is anything other than some designed flight of fancy.

2) if people think they like it, they will consume it.

One of the big UK DIY chains started selling standard micro-turbines last year, they proved unpopular, they're pretty expensive, and tend not to deliver brilliantly, the leader of the Conservative Party got one, but not very many others did. Now obviously if Starck can sell these on his name then it might shift more units but that doesn't mean they'll be any use, and if they don't work too well then that will be setting the micro generating sector up for some poor publicity in the future.
posted by biffa at 1:49 AM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Say what you like about Starck (and yeah once you know the local nickname for the Asahi Beer Hall you can't see it in the same way again, and his lemon squeezer is rubbish) he like has the same model of motorcycle in storage near airports in several major cities round the world that all use exactly the same ignition key, so he can just hope on them straight off the plane... which I always felt was cool as hell
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:58 AM on July 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Creativity and elegance are all very well but if they're compromising the efficiency you are missing the point. And in any case the Gorlov design looks more pleasingly space-age to me, as well as more efficient.
posted by BobInce at 3:14 AM on July 3, 2008

It does not have a smiley face. I was especially expecting a smiley face Philippe!

[My very basic take on wind turbine output has always been that it was primarily a factor of average wind speed and turbine diameter- both variables that mitigate against having anything very efficient that can be stuck near an average house. Would be interested to know if this has changed any.]
posted by rongorongo at 4:59 AM on July 3, 2008

But they were beautiful before, and now they look like an ice cube on a stick.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:54 AM on July 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

VAWTs have lower efficiency than HAWTs, but are mechanically much simpler and thus better choices for home applications. But they need to be pretty big, you need a relatively high average windspeed to make it worth it. Unless you live on a rather windy farm, solar is going to be a better choice. There are a wide variety of VAWT designs; the Darrieus was quite popular when I was working in the field, and looks quite elegant without any help from Starck.

In a past life, I designed blades and powertrain mechanisms for wind turbines (3-blade HAWT, 100 and 300 kW sizes, computer controlled yaw...) and let me just say that you don't want one of those anywhere near your house. When stuff goes wrong, it goes way wrong, and they can throw 6000 lb blades on the order of a quarter mile.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 6:33 AM on July 3, 2008

Mr. Starck, for the sake of the Earth and all that is green and environmental, please restrict yourself to designing Simple objects: Preferably ones that have no nasty, complicated moving parts, don't have to be interacted with or seen in any way, and are made sustainably. Think about it: it's a huge design problem!

You had the idea with the ghost chairs, but those are made of plastic, aren't they? And you've already (accidentally, of course) flooded the world with plastic bearing your name. People can bump into them. Habitats (natural and otherwise) can be polluted by them for millennia to come. They are not quite Avoidable.

(Imagine this advice all typeset fancy with a spray-garnish of marketing gimmicks. NOW does it make sense?)
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2008

I've done a couple of small prototypes and designing reliable, durable wind turbines isn't easy.

would you settle for cheap and easily replaceable?
i've been thinking of putting up some turbines myself...haven't gotten to the prototype stage yet...but if i recall correctly, isn't a generator just a motor working in reverse? if i can get my design working, then theres already bajillions of wind turbines lying around, cheap...they're called 'fans'...has anybody tried using them to generate power before? seems like it might be easier to set up a mini wind farm than one big one, it's scalable, and mechanical failure isn't an all or nothing deal....any raisin this wouldn't work? (try not to burst my bubble too hard ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:30 PM on July 3, 2008

Fans use very inefficient motors. Also, fans accelerate a small amount of air a lot, where a windmill slows down a very large amount of air a little bit.
posted by Chuckles at 9:48 PM on July 3, 2008

ahhh... so, i'm guessing the blade angle is important, here....do you have any idea what kind of efficiency ratio we're talking about, fan vs wind turbine? 5%... 50% ? i was figuring on picking up a bunch of fans from the thrift store...am i going to need 50,000? maybe i should just start with one and see how much juice i get....
posted by sexyrobot at 11:43 PM on July 3, 2008

As a wild guess, I'd expect that the motor/generator in a wind turbine is well over 50% efficient, but others here will have better answers. The motors in your typical cheap fan are called shaded pole, and they are around 20% efficient, or less.

And ya, blade angle. But, in terms of back of the envelope numbers for you, I'm not really sure where to start..

All the nay saying aside.. Depending on your goals, efficiency isn't necessarily that important (which is why shaded pole motors exist in the first place :P). I mean, a little power is better than none at all, and only you can judge if it was worth the effort. Also, nothing beats a practical experiment. Nothing except a series of practical experiments used to refine your design, that is.

DC motors are going to be more efficient, but your typical DC fan uses a brushless servo motor (sometimes called stepper motors, sometimes called synchronous DC motors).. Brushless motors have electronic controllers, so you'd have to do some surgery to access the windings directly, and then some circuit building to add generator electronics instead of drive electronics.
posted by Chuckles at 12:24 AM on July 4, 2008

they're called 'fans'

I don't know whether this is common practice but we use a fan in the mini wind tunnel in our lab to teach the students how to calculate the power curve for a wind turbine.
posted by biffa at 1:27 AM on July 4, 2008

Natgas, wind could slice U.S. oil imports-Pickens

(I suspect the Natgas is the bigger part of that in his mind though)
posted by Artw at 12:24 PM on July 8, 2008

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