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The new 'Architecture Wind' system is highly efficient, features a bird shield, and looks stylish atop urban roofs.  (Source: Aerovironment)

A series of the devices sits perched atop a city roof. Aerovironment is look to generate interest in preparation to mass produce the product and bring it to market in cities worldwide.  (Source: Aerovironment)
While some wind power may just blow, Aerovironment looks to be sleek and stylish

Wind power is an oft maligned source of alternative energy.  One common complaint aired is that it’s not cost/resource effective.  On a similar track, people often accuse it of producing too little power to be helpful.  Finally, some accuse it of being too obtrusive.  Even some environmentalists knock wind power for allegedly killing birds that fly into the slowly spinning metal turbine blade.

While it can't change such opinions overnight, Aerovironment is looking to slowly warm people to wind power by providing direct solutions to the frequent criticisms. And in the process, it hopes to transform the face of modern cities around the world.

Aerovironment produces building-mounted turbines, smaller than those typically seen on wind farms.  By mounting the turbine structure to the tops of buildings, the benefits are twofold.  First, the cost in resources of building a pole to support the turbine is eliminated.  Secondly, the turbines can be elevated much higher, exposing them to stronger winds.

The nearly silent turbines snap onto the parapet of urban structures, forming a design that Aerovironment calls ‘Architectural Wind’.  The rows of turbines not only catch cross currents, but also the frequent currents that develop up the side of buildings.  The result is a 30 percent increase in energy production and even better, a great savings in hassle, in that the turbines are quick to snap in.

While the system is extremely well designed and efficient, many will be drawn to its style.  The system's curvy design looks more like a modern art sculpture than a cutting edge alternative energy design.  This in turn adds to the urban appeal.  Part of the structure even serves another utilitarian use -- the large metal plate over the turbine acts as a bird shield, in an effort to minimize avian casualties.

Aerovironment describes their product stating, "Architectural Wind is designed to install easily onto the building parapet, operating in plain sight as an attractive complement to the building’s architecture. Additionally, based on its proprietary system design, Architectural Wind turbines rotate at low wind speeds, resulting in a form of ‘kinetic architecture’ that communicates clearly the generation of clean energy. Working alone or in tandem with other renewable energy technologies, Architectural Wind is designed to offer an attractive ROI and cost per kW of installed capacity."

A module weighs 200 lbs, allowing relatively easy installation, but also ensuring that it won't blow away.  They measure 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.  Installations start at 6 kW of power production and can be scaled up to produce much more.  Almost any rooftop is suitable to the nonintrusive installation.  The product is in development, but the company hopes to mass produce the new turbines on a large scale, making them relatively affordable, and ensuring the systems turn a profit in energy costs.

While wind farms leave some with little to be excited about, Aerovironment's new approach seems an intriguing fit to bring wind power to an urban atmosphere and start cutting costs.  

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RE: I like it
By derwin on 6/13/2008 4:47:42 AM , Rating: 5
The tidal bulge does not form a lower energy configuration, the tidal bulge occurs nomatter what. When the tidal bulges of two gravitationally interacting bodies are aligned, it does (like Mercury and the sun, or our moon and the earth).

The "tidal bulge" you seem to be speaking of has nothing to do with the waves you see on the sea (however, the inverse is true, the waves are because of the tidal bulge...).

A tidal bulge is what happens because of the effect of gravity warping spacetime, causeing things in the axis facing the gravity source to seem longer than they are (kinda like how it would seem to take you millions of years to reach the center of a black hole? same thing), thus the object seems to get stretched along the axis facing the source of the gravity, creating what is called a tidal bulge. However, this is much more apparent on the smaller of the two objects (in our case, the moon), as the gravity from the larger creates a much larger tidal bulge on the smaller object than the gravity from the smaller makes on the larger.

Now, I'm only an undergrad physics major, so I couldn't even tell you exactly what math to do to understand the percentage of energy of the moons orbit we are sapping, but to get a rough estimate, consider the basic formula for potential energy of an object affected by neutonian gravity, E = mgh:
m = mass, g = acceleration of gravity, h = distance from gravity source to object (the crust of the earth).

The total energy of the moon above us is approximated as follows:
mass of moon ~ 7*10^22 kg
g ~ 9.8 m/s^2
h ~ 385000 km = 3.85*10^8 m
so, E = mgh = 7*10^22 * 9.8 * 3.85*10^8 ~=~ 2.64*10^32 joules (kg m^2 / s^2), or 2.64*10^29 killojouls...

So, consider that the DoE approximates the year 2000 energy usage of the United States at 90 quadrillion BTU, or or about 9*10^16 killojouls.
So lets say we want to run the United States alone off the power of the moon:
We could run that for approximately (2.64*10^29 kJ of moon energy/ 9*10^16 kg/year) 3*10^12 years, which is about 600 times the age of the solar system.
Its probably not going to be a problem; but then again, I am just an undergrad.

All sarcasm aside, the closer we pull the moon, the more the gravitation pulls of both the earth and moon affect eachother, however, there is also the consideration of the alignment of tidal bulges (storing potential energy). You really would need to ask someone more studied than I to give you a real answer, but I hope that my off the cuff estimations could put to ease at least the snap repulsion of tidal energy.

RE: I like it
By therealnickdanger on 6/13/2008 12:46:15 PM , Rating: 3
Speaking of bulges... nerdgasm.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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