Accio Energy, With New CEO, Uses Physics to Harvest Wind Energy Without Turbines
It’s hard to hear the term “wind power” without picturing the giant, bladed turbines that are currently used to generate this kind of renewable energy.
Ann Arbor, MI-based Accio Energy is trying to shake this up. The company is using fundamental physics to produce wind power without turbines—a transformation that could make wind energy more widespread and easier to deploy, says Jennifer Baird, who joined the company as CEO just last week. (Baird is no newcomer to Accio, though, having worked on a part-time basis at the company for a stint earlier this year.)
Accio‘s (pronounced ACK-ee-o) method hinges on flat panels that spray an electrically charged mist of water into a windy area. “That charged mist is a screen and the wind is pushing against that screen and doing work,” she says. Baird didn’t give too many details on how exactly it works, but essentially the device separates the charged water particles and creates an electric current that can be harvested. And the wind’s movement produces more energy than it takes to get the particles charged, Baird says.
While traditional turbines require significant planning, space, and maintenance to harvest wind energy, Accio says its technology can be easily scaled, since it all relies on the flat-panel units (check out this report for a picture of the devices). The “aerovoltaic” system can be expanded by linking additional panels together, to accommodate larger areas and generate more energy, Baird says.
The main challenge to the system is the water supply that’s required to create the charged mist. But Baird says that’s less of a burden than it might appear to be on the surface. “The really scarce resource is clean drinking water; [The Accio system] can use lots of other versions of water,” like unpurified or wastewater, she says,
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