Salient White Elephant

March 19, 2009

Helium VAWT

Helium H-Rotor

Have you ever seen those things that look like a cross between a parachute and a hang glider? I’ve seen people jump off a mountain with these things and fly around for hours. Though I observed them from a great distance, they appeared to move at an impossibly low velocity. I was amazed that they didn’t just fall out of the sky. I’ve heard low speed aerodynamics is a unique and somewhat black art. I don’t know if this is an accurate characterization or not, as I know nothing about this practice. I guess I’m just thinking maybe there’s an application for a low speed wind turbine. Perhaps powering a small remote installation of some kind. In this case, maybe a machine like the one depicted above would be appropriate. It would also be interesting to think about an application where a wind turbine would be over the heads of a lot of people. In this case the idea of having a thousand pounds of rotating metal and fiberglass overhead might make some people uncomfortable. But I find it hard to believe an overhead balloon would pose much danger.

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