Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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wind machine

dispense with towers. turn on the power.
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I won't try to flesh this out too much here, but I'll try to get the gist of it down. What if one were to design a dirigible that was quite long in relation to diameter (I'm not an engineer, so dimensions are not considered). This dirigible would have a spiral 'fin' that would travel the length of the outside of the vessel. Other fin type setups would work too, I suppose. The pointed end toward the prevailing wind would be anchored with cables. The other end would probably need to 'freewheel' somewhat. The mechanism escapes me, surely it is do-able. The entire vessel would spin about it's longitudinal axis. (longitudinal. big word). There would have to be a bearing at both ends, of course. The cables would attach to the bearing assembly, possibly. Once you have the device generating spin you could tap it for power in any number of ways. The cables would allow raising or lowering to optimal wind. They would also allow towers to be eliminated. (huge expense I would guess). Many details would have to be worked out, e.g. helium supply tube, governors, maybe a shutdown capability. I don't know. I have an engineer friend who has a hundred foot tower with a generator on it and operates off the grid. He follows the alternative energy literature pretty well. He said that he hadn't heard of this type of design before. Anyone got a lot of money?
sweepea, Oct 15 2003

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       Towers are the cheap bit of a wind turbine. A blimp-shaped thing would generate a huge amount of drag, so the guy wires would have to be immensely strong.
willard_b_trophy, Mar 14 2004
  

       Good plan.... put a dirigible up, with a wind turbine attached (won't need all the other stuff you mentioned). Drag isn't as high as you'd think as it will always face into the wind. Could string multiple turbines on the wire up to it too. Genius plan, croissant for you.
Mat-C, Jun 27 2005
  

       No, it's not a genius plan. The plan is for a wind-power generator of exactly the wrong shape--long and skinny with the wind instead of short and wide across the wind. That's part of the reason this type of design hasn't been heard of before.   

       Getting a turbine off the ground without a tower has been sketched by every nut with a notebook. The basic categories are kites with turbines, airships with turbines, and self-supporting rotor turbines.   

       As sweepea says, many details have to be worked out. Concepts are easy. Take any of them and make it work, then make it pay--and you'll be a genius like Thomas Edison.   

       Having said all that, I'm now thinking of over-inflating a long blimp so it rises from the ground from the anchored end and fitting fins to it to make it roll. It would be across the wind, not along it; it would adjust itself to the wind; it would transmit the torque to the ground; it would require no cables . . .
baconbrain, Jun 27 2005
  

       Imagine a balloon tied to the ground. A strong wind comes. The balloon is pushed lower and lower. Eventually the balloon is down on the ground. A small dog comes up and bites it! It would require a larger dog (or many small ones) for the dirigible, but you get my drift!
bungston, Jun 27 2005
  

       Yeah, that, minus the dog, is how my new idea would adjust to a high wind--it would just lie down below the wind. That it would be thrashing and rolling through the neighbor's property is just one of those detail things.   

       Dirigible handling was a major operation, and killed a few people.
baconbrain, Jun 27 2005
  

       Excuse me for remarking only 5 years later, but, brain and ton, how are your remarks being constructive? We should encourage each other here, and if its an old idea that you know about but the writer does not, say that.
pashute, Oct 23 2012
  

       The problem of the balloon lying down in strong wind is easily soluble with a suitable arrangement of finnage and tetherage.   

       I might bring to the intention of Mssrs. [bungston] and [baconbrain] a cunning French invention known as a "kite", which is remarkably adept at going up, rather than down, in strong winds.   

       There is no fundamental problem in tethering a dirigible at such an angle that the wind provides additional lift rather than pushing down, sufficient to keep it aloft in any wind and still free to spin.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 23 2012
  

       [sweepea] joined us in the middle of October 2003.   

       During that week [sweepea], created this idea, posted annos on three others, and was never heard from again.
normzone, Oct 23 2012
  

       Probably killed in a tragic dirigible malfunction.
Alterother, Oct 23 2012
  
      
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