New take on wind energy? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-01-2012 Thread Starter
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New take on wind energy?

The founder of this company apparently recently gave a TEDtalk, but I don't think it's posted yet. It claims to reach 2-3 times the efficiency of a spinning wind turbine, but I'm not sure if that's due to their circular sail design or the use of hydraulic pistons to capture energy. Interesting to see if it pans out, if it's scalable to micro usage (boats, houses), or if it's another flame out.

Saphon Energy - Redifining Wind

Here's a (not very useful) video:


I can't tell exactly how it works, I can't find a video that shows it in action and guess I'm not smart enough to see it. And I'm not exactly sure what they mean by circular sail. Does it point directly at the wind and move in and out (like an audio speaker)?

Found this on how a hydraulic piston could be used for energy gathering, not sure if it relates to their model:

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post #2 of 9 Old 07-01-2012
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Re: New take on wind energy?

Honestly, without a much better explanation of how it works I don't see it...

And there are a lot of claims that don't add up.

1) breaking the Betz limit is theoretically impossible. This is the point at which the wind around the system stops moving due to extracting all the motive power from the wind. So it would have to operate in a still air environment...

2) easily stored energy... They claim they can do this by the use of hydrolics. But any wind turbine can be plumbed as a hydrolic pump just as easily as to drive a generator. The technology has been around for centuries.

3) for the life of me I can't think of how a non-moving part can generate electricity. Maybe I am missing something, but....

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Last edited by Stumble; 07-02-2012 at 05:56 PM.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-02-2012
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Re: New take on wind energy?

Let me add another thing that does not add up: They claim to have prototypes, but show none. You could think that they would do that for reasons of patenting, but at least a photo would help.

If you have a clever invention, we must see it to believe it. If you have a clever theory to explain the invention, at least you should prove that you understand some basic physics before one can take your theory seriously. With neither, this smells of fraud. Hope the TED-talk will be out soon though, maybe they give more detail there.

It reminds me of the Steorn-case (
), by the way, as in some fantastic claims about energy production presented on a very nice web-page, but nothing more substantial. At least in this case they don't claim to make energy from nothing.

Stumble: Apparently the sail will move in a sort of pumping movement. I suspect some vortex shedding can acheive that, but I don't see how that will give such efficiencies.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-02-2012
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Re: New take on wind energy?

It sounds (from their web site) that they are using an unbrella shaped "sail" that rocks back and forth as the wind blows, rotating a bit from left to right and as it rotates it compresses a hydraulic ram on either side. Alternately compressing two rams like that would let you build hydraulic pressure, which is part of their special way of "storing" power.

As to the overall efficiency of something like that...I'm not selling off my turbine stock so fast.
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-22-2014
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Re: New take on wind energy?

their latest posted "4th generation prototype" ... seems they are re inventting the wheel ... or the umbrella should I say:

youtube: "saphon illustration"
(sorry cant's post link.)

IMO: It's wont work efficiently. charlatan at best. SCAM at worse.
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-22-2014
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Re: New take on wind energy?

Ok this girl on letterman shows her science project, a flashlight that uses the warmth of the human hand to produce electricity. And I have one of these electric fans that sits on the wood stove that runs from the heat of the stove. Aren't these things scalable?

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post #7 of 9 Old 05-22-2014
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Re: New take on wind energy?

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Ok this girl on letterman shows her science project, a flashlight that uses the warmth of the human hand to produce electricity. And I have one of these electric fans that sits on the wood stove that runs from the heat of the stove. Aren't these things scalable?
Sure... ya just have to find someone with real big hands
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-22-2014
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Re: New take on wind energy?

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Ok this girl on letterman shows her science project, a flashlight that uses the warmth of the human hand to produce electricity. And I have one of these electric fans that sits on the wood stove that runs from the heat of the stove. Aren't these things scalable?
Yes and no, and the "no" part primarily comes into play when you factor in losses, the cost of production vs. output value, and design limits. Similar to the girl's flashlight, you can run a clock from a potato, but how many potatoes does it take to run your house? And for how long? The real kicker is that potatoes cost more than the amount of energy you can get from one, which is also why corn based ethanol is such a bad idea. It's a waste of money and takes the corn away from people who would prefer to eat it.

As to scalablility, it's very easy to make enough electrical power to run a wristwatch using oscillation (quartz movement) but that same principle does not scale upward very far in any usable fashion, and the converse is also true. There is simply nothing practical that can compare the the energy output of a nuclear reactor, but making a very small (safe and portable) one becomes problematic.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-22-2014
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Re: New take on wind energy?

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Let me add another thing that does not add up: They claim to have prototypes, but show none.
you have not been to their website, have you?
How does it work
there is even a video on that page...
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