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Starting with a Jet Engine

The jet engine is the jumping-off point for some new wind designs.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

A subsidiary of aerospace manufacturer FloDesign has taken the jet-engine concept into wind energy. The FloDesign wind turbine is smaller than current turbine structures but can, according to its inventors, produce up to four times more power [source: LaMonica].

Much like a jet engine, FloDesign has a set of fixed blades that sit in front of the moving turbine blades. They are spaced and angled to take advantage of variations in wind speed to produce a rapid-mixing vortex -- a vortex that sucks in additional wind (which would be missed by typical turbine designs) and speeds it up [source: Bullis]. It is this greater volume of faster-moving air that hits the movable blades, spinning the generator.

The unit's designers say FloDesign can produce as much energy as a HAWT unit twice its size [source: Bullis]. In 2011, the unit was installed on an island in Boston Harbor, and it performed well [source: Watt Now].

Next, eliminating friction ...

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