Throughout the developing world, millions of people struggle with a shortage of clean water and steady electricity. This wind turbine could solve both problems in one shot by pulling both power and water straight from the wind.
The WMS1000 Wind Turbine was invented by Marc Parent and is built by the French start-up Eole Water. Sitting atop a 24m mast, the machine generates electricity with a conventional 30kW direct-drive turbine in a 11-tonne nacelle with a 13m blade diameter. The WMS1000 can self-regulate the energy it produces, allowing it to provide a steady stream of power even in gusty or choppy winds. Installing an array of the turbines, which each have a service life of 30 years, creates a small-scale, decentralised power grid perfect for remote areas.
A lot of new wind turbines emerge with fresh technical breakthroughs. But the WMS1000 does something that no other wind turbine does — it generates fresh water. Lots of it. The WMS1000 sucks moisture right out of the air that's spinning its blades. The turbine functions as a 1m wide, 5m long A/C condenser with an equally large heat exchanger. After the wind passes the blades, it flows through an intake in the body of the turbine, through a compressor, and then into the condenser. The water flows down a pipe in the centre of the mast while hot dry air exits the rear of the turbine.
The WMS1000 has been undergoing field testing in Abu Dhabi, where it has produced 500-800 litres of WHO-compliant water daily since being installed in October of last year. And that's with humidity levels below 20 per cent and a respectable 50 per cent collection efficiency. Eole figures it can increase water production to 1000 litres a day if the technology is scaled up to a 25m diameter blade path, equivalent to some off-shore turbine models.
"The prototype is not yet on a mast because we wanted to check that it could operate in difficult desert conditions first — and so far the results have been very good." said Eole marketing director Thibault Janin. "It would be even better, of course, if it was placed in coastal or offshore areas where there is higher humidity and more wind."
Eole has already garnered a lot of attention from some major players in the energy trade, including Emerson and Siemens, who are keen to help develop the technology.
"Water shortage is a real problem — 1.1 billion people in the world cannot get clean water, and 15,000 die every day due to diseases caused by drinking unsanitary water," Janin says. "Politicians around the world understand this is something that will only get worse. But, with our system, we believe we have something that will help normal people have the means to do something to avert a crisis that could be only five or 10 years off." [Tree Hugger - Recharge News - Eole Water]
Images: Eole Water