Most present wind, wave, and tidal energy systems require expensive power conditioning systems that reduce overall efficiency. This new design eliminates power conditioning all, or nearly all, of the time.
Wind, wave, and tidal energy systems can transmit their energy to pumps that send high-pressure fluid to a central power production area. The central power production area can consist of a series of hydraulic generators. The hydraulic generators can be variable displacement generators such that the RPM, and thus the voltage, remains constant, eliminating the need for further power conditioning.
A series of wind blades is attached to a series of radial piston pumps, which pump fluid to a series of axial piston motors attached to generators. As the wind is reduced, the amount of energy is reduced, and the number of active hydraulic generators can be reduced to maintain a nearly constant RPM. If the axial piston motors have variable displacement, an exact RPM can be maintained for all, or nearly all, wind speeds. Analyses have been performed that show over 20% performance improvements with this technique over conventional wind turbines.
This work was done by Jack A. Jones of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-48620
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