• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Cool Fix for a Hot Planet

Air Date: Week of

A new turbine design throws a curve to the wind. Sandra Larson reports.


GELLERMAN: Just ahead – what color is Canada’s economic parachute – but first – here’s a cool fix for a hot planet from Sandra Larson.


LARSON: White three-blade turbines spinning in fields and on hilltops have become the image of wind power. Those tall windmills have limitations, though. They need lots of space, and winds of about 10 miles per hour just to start generating. And when winds are too fierce, they shut down.

So an engineering professor at Cleveland State University is working on a smaller system that could use a larger range of wind speeds.

Majid Rashidi has one and a half million dollars in federal and state grants to construct a prototype of his wind power system this spring on a five-story campus building. It will be a 25-foot-wide cylinder with four small turbines suspended around it.

When air goes around a curve, its speed increases. So the cylinder accelerates air while deflecting it to the surrounding turbines. This helps the system generate energy in very low winds. And its three-foot blades can withstand high winds that might damage larger turbines.

The cylinder and turbine structure will have a capacity of up to 100 kilowatts. So it’s not meant to compete with large turbines, which produce megawatts. But this smaller system could power a few homes, or supplement the energy needs of larger buildings, and can be placed on the rooftops of urban and suburban buildings.

Professor Rashidi says the water towers and silos around Midwestern towns could serve as ready-made cylinders, making construction faster and cheaper.

And so a new shape of wind generator may be coming to town, ready to catch the wind – from lazy summer breezes to gale force gusts.

That’s this week’s cool fix for a hot planet. I’m Sandra Larson.

GELLERMAN: And if you have a Cool Fix for a Hot Planet, we'd like to know it. If we use your idea on the air, we'll send you a sleek electric blue Living on Earth tire gauge.

Keep your tires properly inflated and you could save as much as $280 a year in fuel. That according to a study done at Carnegie Mellon University. Call our listener line at 800-218-9988, that's 800-218-99-88. Or email coolfix—that's one word—at loe.org. That's coolfix@loe.org.



Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth