Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oh, patents! L'arbre à vent® (the wind tree)

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

So, you love clean, green and renewable energy; Pantone 7737 energy, such as wind energy! Yet, you have heard all these disconcerting reports of birds colliding with wind turbines and the associated transmission lines. 140,000 to 328,000 bird deaths per year are reported according to The, while The American Bird Conservatory calls for careful bird-smart planning and implementation of wind farms and wind turbines, to minimize bird harm and loss of bird habitat. 

Even if some folks dismiss 300,000 bird deaths per year from wind farms and turbines as a lesser evil compared to other forms of energy and considering the higher rates of bird death from bigger bird killers, such as cats, building windows and cars, that’s still plenty of blood on the wind turbine tracks….

In comes L’Arbre à vent® (the wind tree), researched and developed by NewWind®, with a radically new design. Indeed, instead of long rotating blades mounted on a shaft, way up in the sky, where it is most dangerous for the birds, and reminiscent of the old fashioned wind-mill, L’Arbre à vent® looks like a tree, with lots of green leaves (80 to 150 leaves generating about 3 kW of power). 

Only, on the NewWind® tree, each leaf is specifically designed to function as a small vertical turbine, with its own generator! And each leaf has a patented position on a branch, so that it does not obstruct the wind coming in as a source of energy for another leaf, and a patented contact surface with the wind, ranging from 8 to 64 cm.

All of the wiring is hidden within the branches and trunk of the tree, and the combination of shape, contact surface and position of the many vertical turbines, as leaves on the tree, thus take advantage of even the slightest amount of wind for transformation to electricity. The result is both esthetically pleasing, and a very functional source of clean, green and renewable energy --without the associated carnage for birds…!

The tree and leaf designs of these wind turbines are termed bio-mimetic, that is, “in imitation of nature”. Indeed, L’Arbre à vent® looks like a stylized chestnut tree or oak tree… depending on specification, and perhaps on which continent you reside… And each turbine looks like a leaf attached to a branch of the power generating tree. And it is because of these bio-mimetic properties that the L’Arbre à vent® blends equally well both in urban settings, like street furniture or street art, and the countryside.

The patent application corresponding to this invention is EP2825770, filed January 21, 2015 with the EPO, and titled Aerogenerator comprising a trunk and a plurality of branches extending from this trunk. An aerogenerator is a power generator that uses wind as its source of power. The patent discloses the patented design of several vertical, leaf-shaped turbines, their specific position and methods of attachment on the branches of the aerogenerating tree, and calculation of the maximum amount of power extractable from the wind, considering all the various design variables. The patent also discloses specifics for the generators and tubing connecting all the hardware.

Below appear the patent Abstract and one of the figure drawings from EP2825770 titled Aerogenerator comprising a trunk and a plurality of branches extending from this trunk, and above, images of the aerogenerating trees and leaves!

The invention relates to an aerogenerator (100) comprising a trunk (10) and a plurality of branches (20, 21, 22, 23) extending from this trunk (10), characterized in that it comprises: - a plurality of turbines (31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 31') distributed over the various branches, each turbine having a vertical axis of rotation (40, 40'); and - an electric generator (50, 50') mounted inside each turbine on the axis of rotation of said turbine. [Abstract EP2825770] 

Just in case you would like to install one of these beautiful wind trees in your backyard, or several on your street, you will have to wait for 2016 when they are scheduled for release to the public!

The American Bird Conservatory –The American Bird Conservancy’s Policy Statement on Wind Energy and Bird-Smart Wind Guidelines
The Smithsonian – How many birds do wind turbines kill?

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