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Apple Designs A Wind Energy Storage Scheme

There’s no plan to put a wind turbine on the iPhone or iPad, so far as we know – but Apple nevertheless is apparently dabbling in wind power technology.

Apple Insider on Thursday uncovered the company’s June 2011 application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office for system intended to store the energy produced by wind turbines.
apple wind energy storage

image via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Here’s how it would work, according to the application:

“During operation, the system uses a set of rotating blades to convert rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat in a low-heat-capacity fluid. Next, the system selectively transfers the heat from the low-heat-capacity fluid to a working fluid. Finally, the system uses the transferred heat in the working fluid to generate electricity.”

In a standard wind turbine, wind moves across blades that are shaped such that the air pressure is uneven on each side of the blades. This causes the blades to spin around a rotor. A rotor shaft turns a series of gears that increase the speed of the rotation, in the process spinning a generator to maximize electricity production.

This has turned out to be one of the more effective ways to produce emissions-free electricity; wind power has grown 40-fold since the late 1990s.

But an issue of concern with wind is that it produces power intermittently, which means that sometimes there’s energy when it’s not needed and sometimes there’s no energy when it is needed. This is mostly a theoretical issue at this point, since wind, despite its growth, remains a relatively small contributor to most grids. Still, many experts – although not all – believe that at high levels of integration some kind of energy storage will be necessary.


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