In the US, we have ready access to a robust, reliable electrical grid. Hate it as much as you want, but it’s become an ingrained facet of life, and most of us have no real concept of living life without access to something like this.
That’s not the case in many parts of the world. That makes using modern battery-powered devices particularly problematic.
One student at the University of Windsor in Canada might just have an answer to that, though – a 3D printable wind turbine.
Understanding the Turbine
The new turbine design is innovative, but it’s the 3D printable aspect that really sets it apart. Conventional turbines are generally made in factories, of lightweight metal or even foam.
They’re not particularly affordable, either. The new design is very different.
Kyle Bassett is a PhD candidate at the University of Windsor, and his design would allow the creation of turbines in a matter of hours. They would require about two minutes to set up, and can be shipped in conventional tube packaging.
The turbine itself is really not that complex. It’s an assembly of six radial arms and a central support.
It mounts to an upright pole for stability, and then connects to a battery or a charging station. Users would have to create the “sails” that connect each of the six arms and are responsible for capturing wind power and turning the turbine.
It’s an old design, but the conversion to 3D printable format means that these devices could conceivably be printed and shipped or printed on site (or printed from a regional hub and then transported to outlying villages and other communities).
Bassett has created a company to further explore and refine his design, and develop new applications for the technology. Once the final design of the turbine is solidified, he plans to release it into the wild under an open source license, meaning it will be freely available to everyone.
Now, the first thought here might be that this would be a great foundation for a business, and that’s at least partially true. However, the real beauty of this is that it would enable local areas to 3D print their own turbines – individual homeowners and even entire villages could print and install turbines, providing charging power for 5-volt devices (cell phones and similar options).
Will the new turbine design revolutionize the world? No, but it has the potential to make life at least a little easier on those who don’t live in an area with ready access to an electrical grid.