Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why is Apple working on wind turbine technology?

Filing a patent for a new energy storage and generation system, it seems Apple may be looking at new ways to add clean energy to its manufacturing processes.

First discovered by Apple Insider, an application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in June 2011 details an alternative wind turbine design that generates electricity from converting heat energy instead of rotational energy made possible by the movement of blades.

In standard turbine design, wind energy is used to turn the unit’s rotors, which then converts this type of power into electricity through powering machinery or sending it to generators. However, Apple’s patent design takes this one step further, and accounts for a problem faced by any system reliant on wind energy — the natural element’s variability.

Described as the “on-demand generation of electricity from stored wind energy,” the patent application details a mechanism in which rotational energy created by the turbine is used to generate heat, which is then stored in “low heat capacity” fluid. This energy is then transferred into a working fluid which creates steam, which replaces electricity in order to power mechanisms or generators.

As the energy is being stored, heat can be selectively transferred whenever there is a lull in wind activity, keeping machinery going and reducing reliance on back-up power systems.

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