This is an interesting one. A newly patented ‘corkscrew’ wind turbine designed by Cleveland State University (CSU) mechanical engineering professor Dr. Majid Rashidi is now helping to power the Cleveland Indians’ stadium. It was put in place about one week ago.
What’s up with the corkscrew design? I’ll let Dr. Rashidi explain:
“The easiest way to explain it is this: there are two wind turbines hanging on both sides of the spiral,” Dr. Rashidi says. “When air passes by the spiral, it gently deflects the wind towards the turbines to power them. If the spiral were not there, the air molecules would typically miss the turbines entirely.”
And this isn’t the Cleveland Indians’ first groundbreaking renewable energy project. The Indians was also the first Major League Baseball (MLB) team to incorporate solar panels into its stadium design, which it did back in 2007.
Of course, this new technology being homegrown, the team, the local community, and Dr. Rashidi hope it’s a sign of economic growth to come.
“The kind of expertise we have in Northeastern Ohio can bring manufacturing back,” Dr. Rashidi says. “It helps the economy by thinking outside the box, trying to do something bold and creating something that no one has thought of yet.”
After being designed at CSU, the wind turbine was actually manufactured and installed by regional companies.
“I absolutely see Cleveland as a potential center for wind-energy technology,” Rashidi says. “This is truly a Cleveland product.”
Cleveland’s Wind Power Roots & Innovations
Interestingly, Cleveland’s got some deep wind power roots. Back in 1888, Charles Brush reportedly developed the first wind turbine designed for energy generation. He did so at his Euclid Avenue house in Cleveland.
Dr. Rashidi actually has two patented wind turbines now. The other is located on top of CSU’s Plant Services Building. That wind turbine is similar but uses a cylindrical rather than corkscrew/spiral shape in order to capture and deflect wind. Dr. Rashidi and his team will be monitoring the performance of both to see how they compare.
While the new corkscrew wind turbine, projected to generate 25,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, isn’t expected to make a huge dent in the stadium’s need for power from other sources, that’s not its main purpose.
“It is an educational statement for the younger generation,” Dr. Rashidi says. “What the ballpark is doing is to have kids from elementary school through high school see that we are being innovative and trying to design something that can have an impact on the economy around the country.” CSU president Ronald M. Berkman has focused on the project’s “engaged learning” aspect, as in the fact that the research project actually has a real-world application. Several master’s students helped to design the wind turbine.
If this demonstration project goes well, the hope is that they can improve the design of the turbine to make manufacturing it cheaper.
“One of the aspects I have claimed in our patents is that we can make the corkscrew as a large, inflatable balloon and secure it with bungee chords,” he says. “The only thing the spiral does is deflect wind, so it doesn’t need to be heavy. I want to figure out how to make the spiral lighter and at a lesser cost.”
Interestingly, the opening game the wind turbine was installed at ended up being the longest opening-day game in MLB history. Unfortunately, for the locals, Cleveland lost.
Source: USA TODAY College
Image Credit: Cleveland State University
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