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June 2015

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Understanding this research coming out of Columbia University, might make your mind explode. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching, but the research is still in an early stage and just beginning to get public attention. It doesn’t even have a name really yet. How about “evaportricity”?

Wherever there is water there is evaporation. It happens all the time, sun up and sun down. It is a manifestation of the molecular energy that exists in all water above absolute zero. Until now, the power of this natural phenomenon has never been converted into other forms of energy. This new research is showing us that evaporation energy can be successfully converted to kinetic energy (and then into electrical energy) and that the technology can be scaled.

From Nanowerk News:

When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper’s lead author.

“Evaporation is a fundamental force of nature,” Sahin said. “It’s everywhere, and it’s more powerful than other forces like wind and waves.”

As a side benefit to this new technology, wherever it is installed (ideally on the surface of a body of water) it keeps water in a closed loop without releasing it to the air. In other words, this technology could be installed on top of water reservoirs to generate electricity while also conserving water. They are still a long way from commercializing this, and they will need to move beyond the use of spores, but still it is impressive.

Who can imagine what these evaportricity infrastructures will look like when they are scaled up to power our cities?!

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In Tehachapi California a new experiment in wind power is being tested. GE is applying a large dome at the rotor hub of three-blade horizontal axis wind turbines. The 60 ft. diameter space frame attachment channels the wind to the perimeter of the rotor where it produces more power.

The 20,000 lb structure can help to increase the power output of existing turbines by around 3%, which has the potential to bring the cost of wind power down significantly below its already low cost. Interestingly, it could also impact the form of future blades, allowing them to be designed for greater output without increasing the overall diameter of the rotor. This is important because the size of wind turbines has increased to the point where it is already very difficult to transport the blades to installation sites.

The ecoROTR is in some way like the Compact Acceleration Wind Turbine (CWAT) experiments that channel the wind to the blades from the perimeter of the rotor, but instead it is working at the center, which potentially means less material cost. The added material cost of the CWAT rings has made it difficult for them to compete in the marketplace.

Of course LAGI is in favor of the compact acceleration idea being applied to public art applications and many past LAGI submissions have incorporated some variation of it.

We’re really excited about this advancement. It’s not every day that there is such a dramatic shift in the form of wind turbine design. If the ecoROTR experiment proves successful it could have a reverberating impact on the design of our energy landscapes. As these new rotor hubs are added on and as blades take new shapes, future wind turbines may look very different than current models. The elegantly thin profile of today’s turbines are nice, but perhaps there are opportunities here for creativity?

We modified the image below just ever so slightly to get a feel for what might be possible for the turbine proboscis of the future!

via This Captain America-Style Shield Makes Wind Turbines More Powerful

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Airway by Artist Vicki Scuri
Image from Forecast Public Art © Vicki Scuri

We were awed yesterday on our way through El Paso, Texas yesterday when we drove through this dynamic piece that frames the I-10 corridor near the airport. It was that perfect time of day when the lighting was set off against a deep blue sky. The vertical axis wind turbines with overlapping blades in perspective provides a complicated visual moiré effect that reveals its secret as you pass through the installation.


Airway by Artist Vicki Scuri
Image from Forecast Public Art © Vicki Scuri

It is very likely that this artwork generates more electricity than it requires to light itself, although that is not a figure that is cited in the articles that we could find online about the piece.

The artist, Vicki Scuri, says that she was inspired by aeronautical forms and by the shape of desert plants.

Below is our guess regarding the desert plant she’s referring to. It is ubiquitous in that part of the southwest and it’s really beautiful.


Flowering Soaptree Yucca (Yucca Elata)
http://www.flickriver.com/photos/lonqueta/5247757022/

Other articles with more information about the artwork:
https://www.codaworx.com/project/airway-crrma-txdot-city-of-el-paso
nice video at the bottom

http://forecastpublicart.org/public-art-review/current-projects/2015/02/airway/
http://herrajeros.com/2015/interview-vicki-scuri-airway-el-paso/

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