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Generator Specialized for Variable Power Input
A common problem in the renewable power industry is that a generator that works well for one speed range does not work well for another speed range; yet environmental forces fluctuate up and down, often unpredictably.
ExRo Technologies Inc. is committed to changing the economics of energy generation from variable power sources such as wind, wave, run-of-river and tidal energy. ExRo’s innovative generator, the VIEG (Variable Input Electrical Generator pronounced veej), exponentially increases the amount of energy turbines can produce. Designed to work with existing and new wind turbines, the patented technology takes the place of traditional generators that are limited in operating activity to a set range of input speeds.
The Variable Input Electrical Generator (VIEG) is a permanent magnet, brushless, direct drive system. It could lower the cost of wind turbines while significantly increasing their power output.
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- Download (mp3; 14 Mb) - On Dec. 22, 2008, Sterling D. Allan conducted a 1-hour, live interview with Jonathan Ritchey, CTO of ExRo Technologies, as part of the Free Energy Now radio series.
How it Works
- Variable Input Electrical Generator
ExRo has taken the path of completely redesigning the electrical generator for variable input sources. Rather than layering individual legacy machines one on top of the next as other companies are doing, the VIEG uses a series of coils, configured in "balanced stages.” The magnetic balancing allows the use of permanent magnets, yet still reduces cogging torque to a bare minimum.
This allows the VIEG to operate at extremely low wind speeds (near zero). As available energy increases, the VIEG matches generator resistance to source energy by electronically adding generator stages. Conversely, the VIEG is able to drop stages as available energy, such as wind speed, drops. The VIEG is able to cycle up and down without hesitation and without mechanical friction. The need for a gearbox is eliminated, and a single VIEG generator can be built to scale up and down with available energy in a way that would take almost 70 individual generators to match.
Based on its modeling, ExRo expects its generator to cost at least 14% percent less to manufacture than traditional generators, once economies of scale have set in.
- Gearbox costs to weight, maintenance and inefficiency (direct drive system of VIEG doesn’t use a gearbox)
- Manufacturing costs
- Installation costs
- Mechanical energy loss
- Power electronics costs and losses
- Fault loss
- Maintenance costs
- Maximum efficiency at all times.
- Higher economic output no matter what the site
- Makes land previously unsuitable for wind generation viable
Benefits of ‘Layered’ Geometry
- Stack assembly allows for customization of VIEG to match wind strength at various sites.
- Example: Instead of selecting a 1.5mW generator system when a 1.6 would be better, operators will be able to optimize incrementally, thereby squeezing even more energy (and economic value) out of a given site.
- VIEG Fault Management isolates malfunctions without shutting down or removing the entire generator, increasing economic output again.
- VIEG strength dependent on length of generator not circumference. Therefore, the VIEG power capacity is not limited to road transportation restrictions, making multi MW systems more attainable.
- VIEG can be assembled in sections on site, with use of a smaller, less costly, and more widely available crane for installation.
- Wind Turbines
- Wave Turbines
- Tidal Turbines
- Run-of-River Turbines
- Hybrid-Electric Vehicle Generators
- Portable Generators and other Gensets
VIEG Kilowatt Class
VIEG field trials scheduled for Q2 2009. Tests will take place on real wind sites in British Columbia, Canada. The side-by-side tests will feature identical turbines, one with a traditional generator and the other with a VIEG generator. Data from the 5 kW trials is expected near the end of March 2009.
In Q2 and Q3 2009, ExRo Technologies will partner with a small turbine manufacturer to conduct the 50kW and 100kW tests.
VIEG Megawatt Class
Beginning in 2010, a prototype VIEG for the megawatt power capacity will be designed and tested. Field trials for the MW VIEG (starting in 2011) will be a joint venture between ExRo Technologies and a turbine manufacturer.
- Kilowatt VIEG –starting in 2009
- Portable Generator- starting in 2009
- Megawatt VIEG – starting in 2012
The VIEG geometry is currently protected by issued patent, and stream of additional innovations are patent pending.
Company: ExRo Technologies, Inc.
Founded in 2005, ExRo has ten employees – some of whom are part-time – and a number of collaborators outside of the company.
As of Q4 2008, the company has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. This has been used for viability testing, prototyping and some patent work, with remaining funds applied towards the 5kW VIEG field trials.
Inventor: Jonathan Ritchey
The generator is based on 12 years of research by inventor and chief technology officer Jonathan Ritchey.
In the News
- Top 100 / Featured: Generators / Wind >
Interview -- ExRo Technologies' Variable Input Electrical Generator (VIEG) - ExRo's CTO, Jonathan Ritchey, talks about their technology that is designed for widely variable speeds of wind, wave, run-of-river, and tidal turbines, as well as conventional genset application. Their design could lower the cost of these systems, while significantly increasing their power output. (FreeEnergyNow; Dec. 22, 2008)
- Despite economy, 3 companies stay on alternative-energy path - President-elect Barack Obama has made renewable energy a centerpiece of his plan to resuscitate the U.S. economy and fight global warming. Yet the credit crunch and nose-diving energy prices are prompting companies to scale back or cancel alternative-energy projects. … Here are three companies that are forging ahead (USA Today; Dec. 16, 2008)
- New Generator Boosts Wind Turbine Efficiency 50% - "A startup company based in Vancouver has developed a new kind of generator that could harvest much more energy from the wind. The design could not only lower the cost of wind turbines but increase their power output by 50 percent to as much as 100 percent, in some locations. (Slashdot; Nov. 18, 2008)
- Innovative start-ups catching the wind - How can we get more energy out of the wind and at the same time make it a more reliable source of electricity for the grid? There are many innovators determined to answer that question, and they are an important reminder of how much room there is to improve upon a technology that first emerged in old Europe as a way to pump water and mill grain. (Toronto Star; Nov. 17, 2008)
- Wind >
Better Wind Turbines - ExRo Technologies, a startup based in Vancouver, BC, has developed a new kind of generator that's well suited to harvesting energy from wind. It could lower the cost of wind turbines while increasing their power output by 50 percent. (MIT Technology review; Nov. 13, 2008)
- ExRo Looks to Wind to Generate Profit - The Vancouver-based startup has developed a generator specifically for wind, tidal power and other forms of alternative energy, and is seeking its first round of funding to begin field trials in March. (GreenTech Media; Oct 27, 2008)
See Discussion page
- ExRo Technologies Inc.
John McDonald, CEO
- Ben Nyland COO
- Media Inquiries Only
Lisa Ann Pinkerton
Senior Account Executive
135 Main St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
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