Cleveland Indians Progressive Field Home To Innovative Wind Turbine

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by


Dr. Majid Rashidi, Engineering Professor at Cleveland State University talks about his wind turbine, how it differs from other turbines and how it can be an effective technology for the generation of reusable energy. Dr. Rashidi’s design has recently been installed at the Cleveland Indians baseball stadium, Progressive Field.

Full transcript:

Ben Lack: I’d like to start by learning about your interest in wind power.
Dr. Rashidi: Actually, I am a Mechanical Engineer and professor in Cleveland State University, College of Engineering. I did my own education in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve University. Since 2005 and starting 2006, I became interested in design of machinery for renewable energy and observing all these difficulties that we have with energy sources for basically for the entire community and the society, I thought I might be able to use my knowledge in design to get involved with this type of research and activity then design and development.
Ben Lack: We’re speaking today because your wind turbine design has recently been installed in Cleveland Indian Baseball Stadium. I’m curious to know why you chose to spend time on a new wind turbine design and how did you also get to the design installed at the stadium?
Dr. Rashidi: Energy is a big challenge for civilization because we have been actually utilizing not so renewable energy for the past hundreds of years. In my opinion, in order to be able to sustain our society we have to divert back to renewable energy as well. And that is the main motivation for me and the reason why I came up with this particular design.Several years ago I was asked to reduce to practice a particular existing design and when I worked on that I realize there was a lot of room for improvement.  So, I went back to the drawing table and I redesigned the system based on my own understanding and ideas. I offered this design up before we spent any money and kind of try to experiment things. I did a lot of mathematical modeling and kind of trying to find out at least on paper the system works. When we made sure that the system is viable theoretically, the next step was to kind of do some sort of scale down model at the table top and see if the physical principle shows itself in real life and when that became an encouraging kind of experimentation and we were lucky to get a grant from US Department of Energy and we used that money to produced two prototypes. One of which was installed in 2009 and that is the same physical principle of operation but slightly different geometry. We got very good favorable experimental results out of that one. So we chose to focus our attention at the issue on this spiral design that recently just went on the canopy of the ball park at Cleveland Indian Baseball Stadium.
Ben Lack: Traditional wind turbines have a few blades that rotate on a vertical axis, your design is different that. If there were any blades it rotates horizontally, is that the biggest design feature difference that you really felt like was the more effective way to generate power through wind and what other design features make your design unique from the other designs that are currently being worked on?
Dr. Rashidi: Actually, the basic principle operation of the system I have offered here is increased of wind speed in terms of the velocity of the air that hits the wind turbine. In terms of the nature of turbine itself that device that generate or converts electricity, I mean the wind power to electricity is the same.If you look at that structure in between the four turbines, I am calling that wind deflecting structure and what that does it takes the ambience wind and increase its speed by a factor of 1.6 times. For examples, if wind is coming at 10mph by the time it gets into my turbine it becomes 16mph. That jump from 10 to 16 rendered itself to a factor of about four times more power extracted from the wind. The best way to explain the principle of operation of my system in a non-engineering kind of terminology is imagine the structure; the spiral structure is not there. So, what you will be left with is four turbines hanging up in the air.If the wind is coming towards them a lot of air molecules and wind will go in between those two columns between the four turbines and they never meet the turbine. When you put a structure which is that spiral cork screw that prevents those winds that otherwise would not meet the turbine and gently direct them toward the wind turbines. So, my wind turbines are being hit with more air, with more air molecules therefore they are capturing more energy compared to if they were installed standalone without that structure.
Ben Lack: Interesting. And because you were able to achieve higher wind from your design that in turn helps you generate a higher power output.
Dr. Rashidi: Exactly. To extract more power.
Ben Lack: Now that the turbine has been installed at the baseball stadium is the next step to move more towards commercialization?
Dr. Rashidi: Actually, we have been thinking about that because what you see on some of the pictures that you have seen is a prototype to prove the concept at a large scale. We already have proven at a large scale with a different geometry, this is the next step but for commercialization effort actually we have been fore thinking for future one of the things that I have offered in my patent is to make the structure out of an inflatable balloon like a limb. Those structures are extremely light and inexpensive compared to structural material like aluminum, plastic and steel. Therefore we might be able to have something which is like a vertical standing spiral shape limb you fill it with air and if there are any leaks you can have a very lower pump to keep it inflated because that structure all is does is deflecting wind towards the wind turbines. So, it does not need to be anything structural or anything kind of heavy.One of the benefits of this if we can reduce It to practice for commercialization is for rapid deployment of wind turbines for groups like army, like if they want to have something just erected and inflate the balloon and install two or four or six turbines next to it then you are increasing the output capacity of those wind turbines.
Ben Lack: Interesting. Why were the Indians interested in your design?
Dr. Rashidi: Actually, that is a very interesting story because I found out about 3-4 years ago that Cleveland Indian Ballpark has a program for public awareness in renewable energy and what they already had at that time was a solar panel, I believe it is rated at 10 kilowatt. They were contemplating on about augmenting that renewable energy source with wind turbine as well to make it kind of more comprehensive and the purpose again is for public awareness. At this level they are not trying to augment the power but mostly public awareness and encouraging people to think about sustainability and renewable energy.When we found out about their desire, we started communicating and just happened the power rating of my wind turbine matched with what they are looking for.  So our conversations and explorations started then and then we went through kind of a lot of work to define the relationship and mutual responsibilities for this wind turbine and that is how we kind of end up installing it there.
Ben Lack: The one that has been installed, what, how much power that it generates and how long will it be there?
Dr. Rashidi: The ballpark turbine was just installed there and there is a very comprehensive kind of memorandum of understanding between CSU and the ballpark so, I don’t think exactly how long it is going to be there. I have to go back and read that document but the power of it is rated at 6 kilowatt and nameplate rating and with the increase of the wind power because of this structure and uniqueness of the design, we are expecting to be able to produce enough electricity to power two typical residential houses.
Ben Lack: Currently, what is the price for electricity in that area?
Dr. Rashidi: I think it is about eight to ten cents per kilowatt hour if I am not mistaken.
Ben Lack: Excellent!Before we let you go, are there other things that you want to share with our audience about your design?
Dr. Rashidi: Actually, one of my main ideas is just like what the Cleveland Indians had in mind is to create public awareness and encourage the younger generations to think out of the box and basically do not give up. Let’s keep the country and the kind of economy and manufacturing going. Let’s go back to the innovative kind of ideas and keep thinking and we’ll have some sort of mark on the society and the economy. That’s one of my main goals.


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