Monday 25 June 2007

New wind turbine spins success for winning student

A revolutionary new design for personal wind turbines has captured the top prize at the BSI Sustainability Design Awards 2007.

Ben Storan, from Galway - a student graduating with an MA in Industrial Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art (RCA) - has been working for the past year in conjunction with Imperial College to design an affordable personal wind turbine suited to the urban environment.

The result is a unique design which uses vertical, rather than traditional horizontal, rotation. This feature gives a slower rotational speed, which allows the turbine to capture more energy from turbulent air flow, common to urban environments. It also means quieter operation.

As a result, it is able to generate more energy than domestic models currently on the market. Similarly sized existing personal wind turbines claim to generate 1kW at a wind speed of 12 m/s - but, typically, produce just 40% of what is claimed. Ben's design should realistically produce 3 times that (1.2kW) of those currently on the market.

The clever vertical rotation design uses lightweight materials, which means that Ben's turbine is more stable than other personal turbines - leading to better energy capture and making it is easier to install.

Speaking of winning the award and the £3,000 first prize, Ben said - "I'm delighted to win such a prestigious award. Growing up in the windy west of Ireland, I've always been acutely aware of the huge potential in harnessing such a free, clean and renewable source of energy - which, along with a spinning clothes line, gave me the idea in the first place."

Whilst still at the early stages of development, Ben hopes that his design will be in production in the not too distant future.

Runners-up in the BSI Sustainability Design Awards 2007, were Joe Wentworth for his retrofit folding handlebars - which encourages cycling in urban environments where space for bike storage is at a premium - and Andreas Zachariah for his 'Carbon Hero™' personal carbon calculator.

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