Windmills on a boat

Discussion in 'Projects & Proposals' started by Gravio, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Fly on the Wall - Miss ddt yet?

    Maybe Da Vinci had reasons for not pursuing this concept.
     
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  2. Howlandwoodworks
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    Howlandwoodworks Member

    This reminders me of Don Quixote his half starved noble steed Rocinante and a windmill for some reason.
     
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  3. comfisherman
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    comfisherman Senior Member

    This reminds me of a family that lived next to us as kids. Parents were high school dropouts who decided to homeschool their children. The family always did the opposite of most in similar family businesses. The goal was "different" at all cost, not "better" just different. Suffice to say it was a costly mistake on all fronts.

    If the goal is boating from the wind...... sailing seems to dominate for a good reason.


    For alternative purposes turbine + solar sounds nice, and I applaud the effort. But for raw wind power.... don't be different at the expense of better.
     
  4. Will Gilmore
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    Would it not make sense to sail when sailing is good, use a windmill to generate electricity, when wind generation was good, and run on electric when sailing is not good?

    No need to drive the boat on windmill power directly, sailing is pretty efficient and wind generators are well established and understood technology that is convenient. A turbine on the stern rail, even one at the mast head and no need to interfere with the sail.
     
  5. comfisherman
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    comfisherman Senior Member

    For stationary power generation in northern boating venues it might pencil to augment some stored electricity.

    In the tropics it seems a catamaran with a top surface that is solar panels and rigged to sail traditionally makes more sense than trying to figure out rigging with windmills. When its optimal power generation it's also optimum sailing.... on the calm scorchers its power under solar.

    I live north of solar panel efficacy, but own a boat and a cabin in a village literally named "great wind" in alutiq. Played with a few windmills, even with ample wind it is a hard sell doing base level battery management. Can't imagine what it would take to move water with a prop...


    But the idea made a classic red green episode.....
     
  6. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    I don't know why there are so many negative comments, the Movie "Waterworld" showed it can already be done.
    SEEMED to work just fine.
     
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  7. Sockmonkey
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    Sockmonkey Junior Member

    Vertical turbines can be made to operate in low wind conditions. It's a matter of designing for it. I used four so that they could be out of the way of the main deck and so that you wouldn't lose all your power generation if one malfunctions.
    Yep, the ones on opposite sides would be counter-rotating.
    Yep, the blades would be flexible so they can lie flat against the masts when stowed.
    In isolation, horizontal turbines are more efficient, but you lose some of that efficiency when it's geared to drive a generator down in the hull, unlike land-based turbines where the generator is in the rotor hub. You don't want a generator at the top of the mast because it's a heavy thing at the end of a long lever arm.
    I'm not certain how much spray would strike them as they're mounted fairly high up.
    Some people would be bothered by the noise, but for others it's just going to blend into the background of waves and wind, and there are some tricks to reduce the sound.
    For bearings you likely have to bite the bullet and go for heavy-duty ones.
    For a rollover, I don't know. Presumably one would stop the rotors and stow them if the sea gets rough enough to flip the ship, but freak waves happen.

    Yes, this is a displacement design.
    Nobody used props on boats at all until after steam power started being used. At that point, everyone focused on making steam power better instead of trying to figure out how to retrofit every sailboat to use a turbine.
    Technology development is funny like that.
    Remember that clever fellow who invented the self-trimming wingsail? He's posted on here. Works great.
    That could have been built with the tech available a thousand years ago but nobody thought of it until now.
    We have the benefit of hindsight and all the knowledge is available online.
    Some ideas just don't show up until you look at things from a particular perspective.
    Consider all the other recent advancements in sailing that could have been done with the tools of the past, but weren't because it takes modern knowledge of fluid dynamics to realize they can be done.

    See my response to the previous poster.

    I accept that the turbines wouldn't give as good a top speed as sails. That was never the goal of this design.
    This is about convenience, in that it's less hassle to stow the turbines flat against the masts than raise and lower sails.
    The turbines also need no constant trimming. In addition to propulsion, the turbine generators and battery packs are also powering all the other ship systems. Lights, radio, heat, cooking, bilge pump, etc.
    Your propulsion power is fully controllable and storable for when you want it.
    That's the context it should be viewed in.
    The efficiency loss is acceptable because even if you do run low on juice, you can always just anchor somewhere for the night to let the batteries recharge.
     
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  8. Will Gilmore
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    One of my favorite shows was 'Connections' by James Burke. Your statements reminded me of him. He also had a show called, The Day the Universe Changed.' It was about how new discoveries changed how we saw the Universe or some aspect of it.

    I think you would like those shows.
     
  9. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Welcome Gravio;
    This topic has come up from time to time.
    another idea https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/another-idea.1289/#post6131
    Sailors wrong for thousands of years? https://www.boatdesign.net/threads/sailors-wrong-for-thousands-of-years.36636/
    But the cube-square law still works against it. As I have said before, you need to investigate the power density to weight and size as well as gyroscopic effects of the rotor. I have no doubt that if it was anything other than a technical oddity, we would see them everywhere.
     
  10. Sockmonkey
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    Sockmonkey Junior Member

    That argument gets tossed around a lot about a great many things, and sometimes it's true, but it's such a huge oversimplification that it isn't worth much beyond sounding catchy.
    Unless a good idea is easy for anyone to DIY, You have to either start your own company to produce it, or convince an existing company that it'll sell well enough to cover the production costs and still turn a profit. Just having a product look weird is enough to put off potential buyers no matter how good something is.
     
  11. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I doubt that is the case with this application. Given the mass proliferation of wind power generation in the past decade, it is doubtless that given the near ideal prevalent offshore wind conditions they would have been fitted to vessels. But given their known drawbacks and a couple of quick calculations in survival conditions, they are, and will be, just a technical curiosity at commercial sizes.
     
  12. Sockmonkey
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    Sockmonkey Junior Member

    If you were only using it for propulsion, it's less than ideal. As the power generator for all the boat's systems including propulsion, you have a low-hassle all-electric setup that's mechanically simple.
     
  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    You need to do the stability numbers. Yes as a small aux power generator wind works, otherwise...meh.
     
  14. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    I recently read this article about smaller wind turbines out of wood which is really interesting for sustainability. There is a link to DIY plans for a 2.4m diameter wind turbine including an alternator for 500-1000 watt (no gears for low winds).

    In comparison I believe the best solution for the future would be crosswind kite power with a parafoil on a single tether winch. It scales better.
    There has been a lot of research done for this because they are significantly cheaper per kW for grid power generation than wind turbines. There is a preorder for the delft startup for a 60m² / 100kW kite.
    The key is the "kite control unit" that can automate it all. It's a box hanging below the parafoil with a computer and sensors and theoretically could also have a prop to allow launching.

    I wish someone would to make and sell DIY plans. A winch with a motor / generator, some standard electronic controllers and sensors, some servos in a box and a parafoil. Only a bit more complicated than a wind turbine really.

    You could easily generate >10kW of power at anchor and maybe even during sail. It needs less material than a sailing rig or a wind turbine so less cost. It captures stronger winds higher up so can sail faster. With a low angle of attack you have less structural and hydrodynamic demands and might have more design freedom to use something like a power catamaran, trimaran or proa with leeboard rudders. With hybrid kite power / electric drive you could even drive straight against the wind without tacking. Automation could theoretically make it as easy to drive as a power catamaran. Easy to stow away for a storm. No need for ICE or generator and cheaper than solar.

    It might also interfere with air traffic and might require permits or a transponder in the future.
     

  15. Dejay
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    Dejay Senior Newbie

    Not exactly on topic and it's pop-sci but still a fun video:
     
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