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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Earl Boysen > Small Windmills Improved With Nanotubes

Earl Boysen
Understanding Nanotechnology

Abstract:
Solar panels are a widely accepted way to generate electricity if your house is off the grid or if you want to supplement power from the grid, however in some regions windmills may be much more effective. Considering that adding nanotubes to composites produces stronger, lighter components I had assumed that nanotubes would be used to produce larger windmills that can withstand higher winds. I was therefore interested to find Eagle Windpower taking a different approach in one of their product lines by using an epoxy containing carbon nanotubes to improve small windmills, small enough to be used to power a single house.

December 28th, 2009

Small Windmills Improved With Nanotubes

Solar panels are a widely accepted way to generate electricity if your house is off the grid or if you want to supplement power from the grid, however in some regions windmills may be much more effective. Considering that adding nanotubes to composites produces stronger, lighter components I had assumed that nanotubes would be used to produce larger windmills that can withstand higher winds. I was therefore interested to find Eagle Windpower taking a different approach in one of their product lines by using an epoxy containing carbon nanotubes to improve small windmills, small enough to be used to power a single house.

Why go the windmill route for power generation on your house? Remember that not every place in the world gets enough hours of sunlight to make solar power practical. For example in December Fairbanks, Alaska gets about 4 hours of sunlight a day. If you lived in Miami, Florida, which gets over 10 hours of daylight in December solar is great, but your average Fairbanks resident would be left out in the cold with only solar to rely on. Also, for people who actually live off the grid windmills are a logical choice, harkening back to the days when windmills were used by our ancestors to pump water and grind grain.

To service this windmill market, Eagle Windpower uses the nanotube based epoxy, and techniques taken from ski manufacturing to automate their blade manufacturing process, to produce lightweight, cost competitive, windmill blades. Eagle Windpower says the lightweight blades result in small windmills that produce 30 percent more electric power than windmills with conventional blades.

Don Quixote may have charged a windmill or two in his life, but in your lifetime windmills may end up charging your home!

For clear explanations of over a dozen carbon nanotube applications go to my Applications of Nanotubes Web page at www.understandingnano.com/nanotubes-carbon.html .

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