1982 - Volume #6, Issue #1, Page #33[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Monster Silo Windmill May Solve Energy Problems
Since 1972, Ralph has invested about $10,000 to develop his unique energy self-sufficiency project. The current model weighs about 9 tons, according to Ralph, and perches 60 ft. above the ground on the 14 by 50 ft. silo. A 15-ft. dia. track around the top of the silo raises the rotor another 10 ft. above the silo wall.
Originally, Ralph made the blades out of tube steel with a sheet steel skin. They didn't work out, so he's modified them several times since then. The current blades are made of fiberglass and measure 50 ft. long. Ralph figures the mill should hit maximum efficiency with wind speeds between 15 and 17 mph. The blades will be turning at about 30 rpm at that speed and the generator at about 1,800 rpm.
"The alternator produces 12 KW of 60 cycle alternating current," Ralph explains. "The current will be used to heat the house in winter and to produce hydrogen for a variety of uses, during the summer.
"After maximum wattage is attained, the blades are designed to start to feather, and will come to a complete stall in high winds to prevent damage to the system. The feathering will be controlled with governors, a radio signal and a spring-loaded trip. The tail of the windmill keeps the blades turned into the wind. The whole thing can rotate 360? on top of the silo," Ralph told FARM SHOW.
Although Ralph's silo is roof-less, the metal framework for holding the mill above the silo walls is equipped to hold roof panels. It also holds the silo unloader tripod pulley and has enough room between the mill and the silo to pull the silo unloader underneath at silo filling time.
"The principle of this design could be adapted to any silo structure. With slight design changes such as diameter of track, blade diameter and size of generator, it could be done. Forexample, a 20 by 80 silo could accommodate a 100 ft. dia. blade and probably a 75 KW generator," says Ralph. He thinks his system could be duplicated for about $1,000 per kilowatt.
Ralph also notes that state-of-the-art wind generators such as a Jacobs Windcharger could be installed on a silo, too, provided that sufficient blade clearance is available between the rotor and the silo top.
Ralph says he intends to go into commercial production when the mill and the generator prove to be workable. Until then, he has no detailed plans or other prepared materials to give out, but he will answer specific questions about his solution to energy problems.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ralph Baker, R.R. 1, Petrolia, Ontario NON 1RO Canada (ph 519 882-1698).
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