The exhaust of an engine, or jet blast, can be extremely powerful. Everyday planes all over the world create powerful wind gusts when putting their engines on full throttle to take off. Could that wind ever be harnessed to create “green” energy?
US industrial designer Richard Hales thinks maybe we can. He has worked out some ideas on how to possibly capture this energy, but is the first to admit he is not an engineer. “I have received numerous ideas from individuals in the wind energy industry but as I am a general design consultant and not an engineer, with limited experience in wind energy, I have to rely on others to assist me in the final design of the product which would include the amount of electricity that possibly could be created,” Hale says.
The project, called FreeWind, is a reinforced unit that contains a wind turbine, flywheel and generator. Multiple units could be used in the same location to harness all the potential wind energy.
Hales has talked with representatives from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where he is based, and they seem interested. “The three persons I met with were impressed with the idea,” he recounts. “However, there was nothing they could do unless I produced a working prototype for evaluation by the City of Phoenix. Since I was not able to afford the construction of a prototype, the idea remained undeveloped for over a year.”
Hales has secured a provisional US patent for his idea and is now trying to find partners and funding to be able to build a prototype and prove his concept. “I am looking for a university, engineering firm or group with the knowledge and creative strength to share in the development of the FreeWind concept to make it a reality, ” Hales said. Some have outright told him that his idea is crazy, but Hales is determined to see if his concept could work.
I would like to see this concept explored, but there are some challenges. The winds coming from jet blast can reach up to 300 MPH and it would take a strong unit to handle those winds. However, this concept could provide green energy for airports and make some use of energy that is mostly wasted.
If you have any questions or suggestions for Hales, you can either leave a comment or email him directly.
UPDATE: I spoke with Hales and my photo used might be a bit mis-leading. The FAA won’t allow anything to obstruct the flight path of an aircraft, so the turbines would be set up perpendicular to the runway to get the thrust of a waiting aircraft.terraxplorer2