Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ECO-TURBINE Report Summary

Project ID: 729183

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ECO-TURBINE (Development of lamella type of wind turbine made of bio composite polymers)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Conventional wind turbines are dangerous for birds, animals and humans in their vicinity and produce harmful low frequency noise; they are as a rule also made of composites with a considerable carbon footprint. In the frame of overall ECO-TURBINE project we will provide the first true ecological wind turbine in the world!

The realisation of ECO-TURBINE project will place on the market new paradigms in the world of small wind turbines in several ways and will fulfil the following objectives;
 New material: ECO-TURBINE turbine aerodynamic parts will be made with the revolutionary advanced technology of flax based bio composites and natural based adhesives with 70% less carbon foot print than conventional composites and higher stiffness that existing flax composites. Our innovative technical concept with less stiffness demanding conditions than classical concepts enable use of bio composites that still have to some degree lower stiffness that e-glass based composites that are normally used in existing solutions.
 New technical concept: ECO-TURBINE turbines will have completely new type of movement than conventional HAWT and VAWT wind turbines. Instead of rotational movement of propellers on round surface will our patented solution have slow revolving lamella type rectangular »wall« of series of blades that use nearly all available wind surface area and will have extremely low level of harmful induced drag effect, therefore it can provide high efficiency ratio – over 33%.
 New business/marketing model: ECO-TURBINE turbine will use technical concept of special under angle painted wind turbine as revolving advertising billboard, therefore our solution will be sold primarily as a very effective advertising billboard with additional function of ecological and effective electricity generation.
 New possibility of placement: ECO-TURBINE turbines will be possible to place on areas where conventional turbines could not be placed due to danger (impact and low frequency pollution) to birds and humans or for aesthetic reasons. They could be used close to the ground in the urban environment, near highways, protected areas etc.

ECO-TURBINE turbine solution represents a completely new concept that will mean a third basic concept of wind turbines apart from HAWT and VAWT turbines.

ECO-TURBINE turbine revolutionary mechanical principle represent also a huge technological and business opportunity for use in the in hydro power generation for small hydro power plants in rivers and streams with low hydro flow. Therefore one of the objectives of the Phase 1 project was to test our solution also for this kind of use.

Main outcome of the overall project will be fully technologically, cost and customer use (with first adopter customer feedback) optimised ECO-TURBINE that will be offered on the market. Unique technological solution paired with innovative business model represents a most attractive business opportunity that we plan to fully exploit. According to plans will project in five years after the introduction on the market generate turnover of around €24 million and profit of €5.3 million annually with ROI of 27%.

In the frame of findings of feasibility study we have reached two major conclusions / changes:

1.) During the project implementation we came across the advanced Activa® intelligent eco-active photocatalytic coating that transforms airborne toxic pollutants in harmless particles. This coating can be applied on the row of multiple blades of ECO-TURBINE and results of photocatalytic will be washed away by wind. Filtering will work with wind (more effective) or without wind (less effective); mounted light on the turbine will enable 24h/day of effective use. Solution has capability of converting 11,54 mg of NO particles (key city polluter) per m2 per hour, with means significantly reducing air pollution in the area. This function will gave the opportunity to use our solution for completely new purpose that is very interesting for public investments. According to these findings we have significantly shifted our commercialisation focus, thus our prime sales target will be air filtering in polluted urban environments with additional function of turbine as effective billboard.

2.) According to the findings of analysis Results of the conduced feasibility study in the Phase 1 have shown very high market attractiveness of our solution also in the hydro power generation for small hydro power plants in rivers and streams with low hydro flow, like for example irrigation channels. ECO-TURBINE unique mechanical concept enables use of nearly all rectangular cross-section of water flow – no other known competing solution can provide similar result. On top of that general classical infrastructure : equipment cost ratio of approx. 75% : 25% of the hydro power plants can be with our solution reversed in the 25% : 75% (with similar range of equipment costs as in classical turbines), which in general for more than half reduces overall investment costs. This enables new possibility of hydro power electricity production in conditions where existing technological solutions cannot be profitable. Hydro solution represents an important opportunity that will be further explored. Market launch of ECO-TURBINE will be first done on wind solution, after successful launch our efforts will be directed also on the hydro area.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the frame of the feasibility study with business plan were studied critical issues that have provided answer to feasibility of the effective global market launch of the ECO-TURBINE. In the frame of the feasibility study were set the following objectives:
• Determination of mechanical properties of flax based blade composite with (more in-depth than preliminary measurements) measurement regarding stiffness, strength (under different thermal span), wear etc.
• Determination of in-depth performance of aerodynamics and efficiency ratio.
• CFD analysis for determination of possible use of ECO-TURBINE turbine revolutionary mechanical principle in the hydro power generation for small hydro power plants in rivers and streams with low hydro flow.
• Elaboration of best business model and scenarios with possible combinations of conventional approaches and above mentioned new business model with identification of other possible applications.
• Determination of most promising key geographical markets, customers segments (energy producers, advertising agencies, municipalities…), sales & distribution channels (especially in the aspect of mentioned new business/marketing model and new possibility of placement), approaches to potential customers and identification of most attractive first customers, partner search.
• Determination of most efficient promotional and marketing approach with special attention to use of green materials and low carbon footprint promotional messages and marketing.
• Determination of best risk management, innovation management, IP management scenarios.
• Obtaining potential users feedback information with users involvement.

All above mentioned areas were elaborated and conclusions were prepared on the basis of results of analysed areas. Thus objectives of the feasibility study with business plan were met. The results of the technological feasibility have even turned out to be even more attractive than we estimated before, especially regarding power output in comparison with classical solution. Therefore from the technological view we do not any serious obstacle for market success of the project.

Besides the environmental benefits, compared to glass fibre composites (than cannot be effectively recycled), the flax fibre reinforced composites with the equivalent performances have higher fibre content, resulting in less pollution from synthetic polymer matrix. However tests had to me performed that we could be sure that flax based composite will sustain the necessary conditions of operation of ECO-TURBINE. We have performed tests with hemp mat and polyester resins on six samples (see figures below), based on results of test was selected the most suitable composite solution for the further use in ECO-TURBINE. According to the study of literature, testing of samples and testing of prototype properties we concluded that our flax based composite has more than sufficient stiffness, strength and wear properties for use in operation of ECO-TURBINE. The material properties of our selected flax composite are comparable with glass fibre composites that are usually used for wind turbines. Our selected composite had approx. 10% lower stiffness than comparable e-glass based composites, however this is not problematic at all since our two points of fixing instead of one point fixing and up to 6 times lower speed of operation than comparable tip speed of blades of HAWT turbines more that out weight little lower stiffness performance.

Prepared were in depth Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis of aerodynamics of the ECO-TURBINE to in detail determine most important aero (and hydro for possible hydro version) characteristics. According to the findings we made some optimisations of construction and we made conclusions regarding turbine’s performance. Based on the findings was determined that ECO-TURBINE will have a very high 0,37 overall efficiency ratio - considered were combined aerodynamics (hydrodynamics) mechanical losses for typical solutions.

In the frame of Phase 1 project was build second (full scale) wind turbine prototype. Prototype was tested and excelled with overall impressive results.

Interpretation of results related to possibility of use of ECO-TURBINE turbine revolutionary mechanical principle in the hydro power generation for small hydro power plants was partly outsourced to company I-Vites, Institute for high technology and systems where prof. Lipej, PhD made the evaluations. Based on the analysis was concluded the following:
Advantages of the potential ECO-TURBINE micro hydro power plant:
- usual construction work costs represent more than 75% of all costs and 25 % represent cost of hydro electrical equipment,
- for new hydro power plant the situation is opposite - construction work costs represent 25% of all costs and 75 % represent cost of hydro electrical equipment, what means, that total cost for equal installed power is lower about 50 %,
- usual hydropower plants need dams and water accumulation; the new type can be installed in existing structure (irrigation channels, rivers, ocean streams),
- the impact on the environment is negligible,
- the energy transformation is more optimal, because of the shape and the possibility of modular construction,
- because of the rectangular shape, the energy conversion is better from 25 to 30 % in comparison with circular shape,
- the losses in rotating parts are just a few percentage bigger (2 – 5 %), than at usual low speed water turbines.

A series of CFD calculations were done to compare power output for wind and hydro version in relation to typical classical solutions of wind and hydro turbines.

The amount of the electric energy production depends on the size of the turbine cross-section, speed of the fluid, density of the fluid and complete efficiency of the turbine.

Usual wind or hydro turbines are circular shape in comparison with the ECO-TURBINE, which is rectangular shape. Because of the shape, the transformation of energy can be better from 27 % to 50 % with the same level of efficiency or for the same energy transformation can have lower efficiency, if we take in consideration extreme measures of device.

Determined were key geographical markets, customers segments, sales & distribution channels with consideratio of differnt aspects of mentioned new business/marketing model and new possibility of placement.

Development within various tasks of Phase 1 SME led to a comprehensive MCA analysis that allowed for development of effective value proposition and a business model that will be implemented. Multidimensional analysis addresses these conflicting features, resulting in an optimal business model for the device design and market placement, but also allowing for future developments of specialized solutions. This could put the product in a new section of city air filters. But the filtering function also serves as an addition to ecological advertising and works really well with the idea of placement into densely populated areas and areas with high traffic.

We argue that a lot of small wind turbines are serving as clean energy message boards in metropolitan areas, where the message of “green city”, company, shopping area is more important than the LCOE of the turbine. Early communication with the local municipalities and shopping areas have proved this basic concept.

We have analysed a developing sector of wind turbines with advertising feature as direct competition, but further addition of air cleaning does give our product a sustainable edge. Photocatalytic process that we apply to the product works on contact with polluted air where TiO2 covered surface actively cleans the air. The unique design of the turbine (its design coincides with largest available prototype of an city air filter) allows for maximum surface exposure. In both wind turbine generator and filter motor function it actively cleans more air than a similar devices with traditional design would cover.

Prepared was comprehensiove business model in the form of graphic presentation. Analysis of existing multi-criteria decision making models for wind farm developments, allowed us to chose from criteria that was already successfully applied. More importantly, various analysis have shown a distinct difference in priorities from different stakeholders. In a comprehensive analysis (A multicriteria approach to evaluate wind energy plants on an Italian island Fausto Cavallaroa,*, Luigi Ciraolob), small turbines have shown a distinct advantage regarding social acceptability and influence on environment (including visual).

Our unique design adds possible revenue streams (advertising) and benefits (air cleaning) that far surpass the relative inefficiency that limits the use of small wind turbines. And the key factor is the end user. Changing the end user to municipality (local community) in possible PPP partnership with an advertising agency, we believe we serve the distinctly different stakeholder/user preferences.

Using similar criteria, we performed an MCA analysis from three key stakeholders: Metropolitan areas/municipalities, advertising agencies and utilities/green energy investors.The results show a possible variability of criteria importance. In the advertising model, advertising income can strongly surpass the possible energy production value, reducing the value of the optimal small wind turbine. On the other hand air cleaning function would allow for the positioning of the turbine on prime locations in municipalities, reducing the wind energy to “message” or self sustainable billboard/air cleaner support. This does change the business logic substantially, but also broadens the use of the product and adds value to end users.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

ECO-TURBINE project will have significant impact on the EU society, especially with introduction of mechanical solution with business model that will anble profitable placement of air filtering hin the urban societies.

In the frame of overall ECO-TURBINE project we will provide the first true ecological wind turbine in the world! ECO-TURBINE is a win-win-win solution: turbine will produce green electricity; however its main function will be serving municipalities by filtering polluted air in urban environments, apart from that its moving surfaces will be sold as eye catching rotating advertising billboard space.

Progress beyond state of art with experced impact will be implemented mainly on the following areas:

Mechanical concept: ECO-TURBINE turbine solution represents a completely new concept that will mean a third basic concept of wind turbines apart from HAWT and VAWT turbines. The mechanical movement consist of series of blades that are interconnected with belt and travel in front and back row of the rectangular turbine “wall”. The speed is generally slow and is automatically adjusted with electrical generator in order to gain maximum efficiency ratio and desired speed at the whole useful span of wind velocity (from 3 m/sec to 20 m/sec) and the whole length of wind surface. Rectangular »wall« of series of blades will use nearly all available wind surface area and thus provide high efficiency ratio – over 37% according to calculations. An important factor that for 15% (relatively) improves efficiency ratio according to CFD simulation is the elimination of the most of the harmful induced drag that can at classical small wind turbines with low lengths of blades diminish aerodynamic lift for up to 30% along blade length. Our solution has on both edges of the blades closed edges that prevent air particles to move from high pressure side of the blade to the low pressure side of the blade.

Function as air pollution filter in the urban environments: On the blades of turbine is applied advanced Activa® eco-active photocatalytic coating based on TiO2 and produced by Active Walls S.L.. Activa® uses photocatalytic process where solar energy transforms airborne toxic pollutants produced by cars, factories etc. into gypsum (CaSO4), calcium nitrate (Ca (NO3) 2) and limestone (CaCO3), which are completely safe for health and the environment. Products of this chemical process on the blades of turbine will be washed away by wind. ECO-TURBINE will therefore act as big air pollution filter in the urban environments. UVlight is mounted on the turbine that lights blades and enable filtering the air 24hours a day. Air filtering with Activa® coating is specifically effective on ECO-TURBINE, since our turbine has approx. 20 times bigger surface of blades like for example normal HAWT turbine. Despite considerable improvements in past decades, air pollution is still responsible for more than 400.000 premature deaths in Europe each year. More than 80% of people in urban areas on global scale are exposed to air quality levels that exceed World Health Organization limits. Air pollution could cost global economy €2.5 trillion a year. Our solution will help to improve this sitiation.

Controlling of generator/motor: Generator of ECO-TURBINE has double function with possibility to work also as a motor. In this way turbine can generate rotation of blades also in times with no wind and perform active air filtering. Controller of generator/motor regulates the speed rotation so that it remains relatively slow in all working conditions of wind speed in order to be able to effectively perform its advertising function.

Business model: A very important issue in our project is also the innovative business/marketing model related to generation of income from advertising. Human eye has during evolution evolved very strong tendency to monitor movement in its surrounding, therefore our wind turbine / advertising billboard will be extremely noticeable by the target publics. Advertof the technical concept of special under angle spray painted wind turbines blades and normally painter sides of turbines as advertising billboard. , therefore our solution will be sold primarily as an energy self-sustainable air pollution filter that generates steady income from advertising. Free standing air filters in urban environments have so far not been massively used due mostly due to high cost. However generated steady income from advertising will actually enables massive use of ECO-TURBINE as air filters in urban environments.

Material solution: There have been few attempts to develop biocomposites for wind turbine blades. Probably the most interesting is an attempt from prof. Kessler team for Iowa State University that was developing carbon fibre by blending lignin with biocomposites, such as the starch-based polymer polylactic acid (PLA), rather than using petroleum-based composites such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Few attempts have been made also to use flax polymer, but so far none with real success. The main reason is the following: in general the resin transfer moulded flax blade is 10% lighter (fibre mass saving of 45%) than the identical construction E-glass blade. Static flap-bending tests, conducted in accordance to certification standards, blade satisfies the structural integrity requirements under ‘normal operation’ and ‘worst case’ loading, therefore flax is a potential structural replacement to E-glass for similar composite small wind turbine blade. However the failure root bending moment and corresponding tip displacement of the flax blade are 11.6 kN m and 2300 mm, respectively. The blades exhibit distinctly different load–deflection curves and failure modes. The mean flexural rigidity of the flax and E-glass blades are estimated to be 24.6 kN m2 and 43.4 kN m2, respectively. Although flax fibres and their composites are generally recognized for their stiffness, a flax blade cannot compete against an E-glass blade in terms of stiffness . However our mechanical concept with two point of contact per blade enables use of flax fibres that still have to some degree lower stiffness than E-glass structures, but it is sufficient for needs of ECO-TURBINE particular mechanical concept. Important benefit is also fact that flax based composites are also lighter than conventional ones . In addition to that we have managed to use RTM process that enables 82% less for environment harmful emissions than classical hand lamination process. .

Production technology: We have developed innovative technology with use of computer optimised distribution of heating geometry of tools and high pressure to raise the share of fibres : resin for 12%, which results in higher stiffness of material needed for blades. In addition to that we have managed to use RTM process that produces less environment harmful emissions.
Spill-over possibilities: ECO-TURBINE turbine revolutionary mechanical principle represent also a huge technological and business opportunity for use in the in hydro power generation for small hydro power plants in rivers and streams with low hydro flow.

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