Magnetic Wind Turbines
Magnetic wind turbines or MagLev (magnetic levitating) wind generators may just be the Web 2.0 of the wind industry. Magnetic wind turbines, such as those used by Jay Leno and Ed Begley, Jr. can be used in slower winds, have less resistance and last longer due to less wear and tear.
|Magnetic wind turbines are generally vertical axis machines that are suspended with magnets above the base.|
This means there is no wear and tear on ball bearings as there would be with other non-magnetized models.
The MagLev wind turbines generally employ “neodymium” or rare earth magnets that don’t require electricity to work as would systems equipped with electromagnets. One of the advantages of magnetic wind turbines is that there is little energy loss due to friction.
Since the magnets repel each other and never touch, this means that they can start turning and generating electricity in very low wind speeds (3 mph). Magnetic wind turbines also work well in higher wind speeds at over 80 mph whereas other turbines may automatically shut down to avoid damage.
In November 2007, Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Technology in central China began building the world’s largest utility scale magnetic wind turbine. Perhaps the largest benefit is the expectation that this MagLev wind generator will be able to produce electricity at less than one penny per kilowatt.
Because of the vertical axis and conical or cone-shaped design plus low resistance, the magnetic wind turbines can typically be placed lower to the ground than horizontal axis bladed turbines.
This means not only are MagLev wind turbines idea for commercial and utility scale applications but will also work in the residential settings. Jay Leno, as previously mentioned has a 5 kw magnetic wind turbine on the world famous Jay Leno’s Garage. Ed Begley, Jr. has one about one-third this size (1.5 kw) on his home. Jay Leno also likes to compare the size of each.
The potential to scale up magnetic wind turbines is enormous. Researchers and engineers say that 1 gigawatt MagLev wind generators are feasible, which will be enough to power around 750,000 homes.