In 2004, a utility company hired physicist James McCanney to analyze the future usefulness of renewable energy technologies. It was then he discovered that the increasingly popular, three-bladed wind turbine is designed all wrong. This discovery led him to create the WING Generator, a vastly more efficient wind turbine that won the Water Abundance X Prize for Technological Innovation in 2018.
The first problem with conventional wind turbines is that more than 90 percent of the wind blows past the blades without touching them. That caps the turbines’ energy efficiency at less than 10 percent. The second is that wind striking a blade slides up the blade and drifts off the end. That’s another source of lost energy.
In McCanney’s WING Generator, the turbine blades aren’t designed like propellers but like airplane wings; wind flowing over them creates lift instead of pressure, which boosts efficiency. Second, instead of three blades, the WING Generator has a multitude of blades that come into contact with most of the wind flowing to the device. Third, McCanney entirely surrounded the wheel holding the blades with a shroud, similar to a fender over a bicycle tire. The shroud captures the air coming off the ends of the airfoils and directs it back into the blades, gaining as much as 40 percent more efficiency.
According McCanney, his design can begin producing electricity with a breeze of just 5 mph – and without the starter motor that conventional three-bladed turbines require.
Attached to coolers and compressors, McCanney’s generator can extract water from air – an energy-intensive process that now can draw cheap power from the redesigned turbine. Also, just like the windmills on old farms, McCanney’s generators can be used to pump water from the ground. With the water filters he invented and markets through his JMCC Water Filters company, a WING Generator could pump and clean water while also making electricity, which could be stored on-site in batteries to tap when the breezes die down.
McCanney is marketing small versions of his device – from 2kW to 50kW, enough to supply energy needs for a small farm or ranch – and has engineered versions up to 250mW, a structure almost 900 feet tall. According to McCanney, a thousand of his giant turbines, strategically placed, could supply the electricity needs of the entire U.S. – all without storage batteries or government subsidies.
He’s seeking investors.
TRENDPOST: Clean water and clean energy are two of the future’s most urgent needs. Next-generation technologies that boost efficiency – especially those, like McCanney’s, which solve both problems at once – will find expanding markets through 2050.