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Integrated Roof Wind Energy System

Final Report Summary - IRWES (Integrated roof wind energy system)

Wind is an attractive renewable source of energy. Recent innovations in research and design have stagnated to a few alternatives with limited impact on residential construction. Cost effective solutions have been found at larger scale, but storage and delivery of energy to the actual location where it is used remains a critical issue. This Marie Curie proposal, with Contract No PIEF-GA-2010-273451, explored the physics, engineering and architectural features of an 'Integrated roof wind energy system' (IRWES) for residential construction to supply individual homes. And because of that, being less independent from the power grid. In addition, a new added function to the roof structure makes that the roof becomes a large capturing inlet to generate wind energy. Inside the roof unit there is about 500 % increment of the wind speeds with direct correlation to the amount of energy that can be harvested. Based on the average wind velocities in Europe, there is the potential to harvest multiple times the consumption amount of single-family households. Looking at the wind energy potential and today's energy usage in Europe, effective designs of wind energy harvesting systems can bring solution of our renewable energy shortage. The Marie Curie project focuses on bridging knowledge gaps amongst existing theories of fluid mechanics, wind power generation, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), structural design and material engineering. From a multidisciplinary perspective, these studies address a spectrum of topics including skewed flow, geometry, curvatures, dimension scales and turbulence compression, directionality, influence of capturing louvers, and novel material use with respect to architectural aesthetics, sustainability, constructability, and functionality.

In the first year of the Marie Curie project CFD studies were performed and architectural and engineering features were performed. This information was used to build a full scale mock-up (see http://www.irwes.com/prototype.html and http://www.meerssen.nl/gmr/instyle.nsf/Images/Duurzaamheid/$File/Presentatie+IRWES+Meerssen.pdf online for further details). This full scale prototype, 3.6 x 3.6 m in footprint and 6 m high, was built next to the Maastricht-Aachen Airport in Meerssen, the Netherlands. The purpose of the prototype is to measure acceleration of wind flows and velocity pattern.

By constructing the mock-up different construction issues during the process were studied. For instance, some construction issues delayed the production due to working at height, complexity of shape and connection details, length of the louvers, and periods of unworkable weather conditions. The test results measured in the mock-up shows that the wind flow can be efficiently accelerated at the location in the mock-up where a vertical turbine will be put. The acceleration of the wind flow is up to a very promising level. Postulations indicate that this results in a competing amount of energy generation in relation to system cost in the envisioned use.

The results generated in the prototype served as input to design a pilot unit. This pilot is designed to be placed on the roof of the faculty building in Eindhoven with a height of 57 metres. The pilot unit will be placed on the south facing elevator shaft to ideally catch high winds coming from south-west. The size is designed as a 12 x 6 m unit with a single turbine inside using the complete wind volume. In the duration of the MC-project the design and the engineering was made and the process of acquiring the necessary permissions was started. The design was consulted with the building architect Bert Dirrix, who considered the unit as enrichment to his building. He now even uses this concept in other architectural designs.

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