Kean Stimm’s love of sailing may lead to a revolution in green energy that renders windmills all but obsolete.
Stimm, a scientist and engineer from Williamsville, spoke at Eden Town Hall on Thursday, Jan. 10, at an informational meeting coordinated by Eden’s Chamber of Commerce. About 25 residents, including some members of the town board, were in attendance to learn more about Stimm’s “Newtonian Wind Turbine” and the possible economic boon it could provide for Western New York.
Stimm’s invention is a wind turbine that can convert energy from 100 percent of the air mass traveling through the turbine; three-blade windmills, such as the ones found on Woodlawn Beach, can only convert energy from four percent of air mass. A wind turbine three meters in diameter can produce 10,000 kilowatt-hours per year, while the eight-meter variation can generate 100,000 kilowatt-hours per year. These numbers were generated from prototype tests conducted at Cheektowaga’s Calspan Corporation wind tunnel testing facilities.
Assuming an average wind speed of 12 mph, which Buffalo experiences regularly, one eight-meter wind turbine could reliably power at least six homes. Five turbines can be stacked on a single pedestal, and according to Stimm’s calculations on turbulence, turbines in the same direct wind path can be lined up 50 feet away and still reach maximum electrical generation.
A chance observation on a sailing excursion started Stimm on the path to his wind turbine design. Many sailboat enthusiasts understand Bernoulli’s Principle, which creates lift in airplane wings and windmill blades, to be the driving force that sends the boat forward. Stimm discussed the possibility with his sailing partner, himself a physicist, that Newton’s Law of Linear Motion would have a greater effect on the boat’s speed. The law states in part that the acceleration of a body is directly proportional to the force acting on it. Stimm and his associate adjusted their sails accordingly, and quickly noticed an increase in their speed. His knowledge of the imperfect nature of windmill energy generation led him to believe that the application of this law could create a turbine that would catch all of the air mass traveling through, converting 40 percent of the wind’s kinetic energy into electricity.
As Stimm has told others at meetings in Hamburg, Evans, Lancaster and many other area locations, he believes that this invention isn’t just an engineering breakthrough for green technologies, but it could bolster the wealth of the entire Western New York area. Kean Wind Turbines, Inc., which will develop and sell the turbines, is set up as a state benefit corporation. As such, the corporation can only release a certain number of shares and will divert much of the company’s revenue into community-based initiatives.
Stimm also hopes that, although franchised manufacturing facilities will appear across the globe, a large manufacturing presence can be kept in Western New York. Ideally, Kean Wind Turbines would have operating agreements with four manufacturing plants in Western New York, each employing 2,500 individuals to assemble the turbine. Kind Wind Turbines would also mandate that these plant operations would remain in Western New York forever. Stimm hopes that turbine production can begin this summer.
“If you’re unemployed and you want a job, come talk to us,” Stimm told the audience. “We have a lot of positions coming up, a lot of work that needs to be done.”
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