1. Sam

    Sam New Member

    I wrote to Saphon Energy in Tunisia about their "bladeless wind turbine".

    http://www.gizmag.com/saphonian-bladeless-wind-turbine/24890/

    The reply I received said:

    "Thank you for your interest in Saphon’s Technology. Our product is not yet available on the market.
    When the commercial stage will start, we will be happy to answer to your enquiries with more detailed information and discuss about business opportunities in USA."

    So, they don't seem to be looking for immediate investment capital.

    I don't know enough about the science to know if it is for real.

    Has anyone heard anything that might confirm or debunk bladeless wind turbines that are more efficient and cheaper?

    Sam
     
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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    There's a patent here:
    http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/...688&recNum=25&docAn=TN2010000005&queryString=


    [​IMG]



    I can't immediately see how it is supposed to work. But it reminds me of a perpetual motion machine.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Odd how the patent has "a wheel (F) equipped with a series of blades arranged all around it" yet this is not seen in the renderings, and it is described as "bladeless".
     
  5. Sam

    Sam New Member

    I just found this video which shows the "bladeless" wind turbine in action (at 3:10 mark in the video).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdcmShRcyfk
    The inventor also claims he gave up a lucrative banking sector job to become poor by developing this invention.
    Disclaimer: I have no financial interest and no links to the company. I'm skeptical. Although I have to admit the technology of wind sails is thousands of years old. This appears to be a new application that converts wind to kinetic energy using pistons powered by the back and forth motion of the sail (see video at 3:10 mark).
     
  6. Sam

    Sam New Member

    The gizmag article title uses the word "bladeless." (and I repeated it in the post title ... my bad)

    The actual patent application title says it is a "System for converting wind energy" and does not use the word "bladeless."
     
  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Saphon's web site though describes (and illustrates) it as "Zero-blade" with no rotation, so it seems clear that their idea is not exactly like the patent application. Presumably they feel that the wobbling disk part of the patent covers the present invention.

    http://www.saphonenergy.com/site/en/zero-blade-technology.15.html

    [​IMG]



    They explain they evolved away from the original design:

    http://www.saphonenergy.com/site/en/evolution-pace.60.html

    [​IMG]



    How does it work:


    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  8. smitchlovesfunk

    smitchlovesfunk New Member

    What really worries me about their claims is the diagram of the streamtube showing the upstream wind; it is completely wrong! The energy extracted from the wind comes from a streamtube that has a smaller area than the turbine's swept area, not larger! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz'_law
    How it is possible to "swallow" an area of wind larger than the area of the device I have no idea!!

    Having said that I don't want to rule out the chance of them being able to beat Betz, but this huge mistake in theory does not give me much hope.
     
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  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yes that diagram is nonsensical - you can see how a larger density of the wind would hitting the surface, but not a larger cross-sectional area.

    The whole thing looks very dubious. How is it extracting energy? How does it not shake itself to bits after a few hours in a stiff breeze?
     
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  10. RSFNF

    RSFNF New Member

    Dear Mick, Dear friends, Dear All,

    SAPHONIAN DIED on 29th of April 2013!

    I am a Tunisian expert in the innovation field. The evaluation of any innovation is the [backbone of my] job. Evaluation on 3 aspects: Scientific/Technical, Industrial/Technological and Commercial is needed to achieve any transfer.
    The SAPHONIAN didn’t need all these effort to achieve a tragic conclusion: It’s a joke, a large scale joke!
    I use smooth words like Joke instead of scam or any other accusing adjective. It’s not my job.
    Some facts to the conclusion:
    - Mid-November, I was very happy in learning the scoop from my colleagues: Two young Tunisians invent a new system, called SAPHONIAN. This system converts the wind to electrical Energy with high performances, better than the classical wind system and lower price.
    - To better know about this ‘pearl’, I wrote to Saphon-Energy, asking for the SAPHONIAN performances. They welcomed my email and answered immediately in forwarding the booklet, available in their website.
    Same day and the booklet read, I sent to the innovators comments on technical and patenting aspects. I worked, amongst others, on helicopters and the rotor taught me a lot of things.
    - One week after, NO answer, NO thanks, Nothing at all!
    In my experience, I’d never seen such strange behavior. This was my first doubt about the seriousness of the SAPHONIAN.
    Then I forget the SAPHONIAN as I didn’t believe.
    - On April, I waked up with many blows on my head: SAPHONIAN awards, interests, and articles in newspapers and interviews: My god the SAPHONIAN goes again!
    - On the same day, I decided to look closer at the SAPHONIAN. 48 hours were enough to seal the future of this joke through an analysis of performances and making prototype.
    a. I studied the patent ‘drinking the ink and eating the paper’ to make a detailed analyses of SAPHONIAN performances : ZERO PERFORMANCE
    b. I built a pedagogical prototype of SAPHONIAN to better understand the mind of innovators: AMUSING MACHINE (would be an extraterrestrial hat!)
    CONCLUSION: It’s a joke, a large scale joke!
    - To be fair towards the innovators, I sent an email to them, hoping an immediate reaction from them. This is the conclusion included in my email sent to Saphon-Energy:
    1. The Saphonian has obvious malfunctions.
    2. The performances of SAPHONIAN, as EECS (Aeolian à Electric [wind powered electric generator]) are negligible near to zero.
    3. Saphonian is a classical wind system, handicapped with diminished capacities, and converts the wind to electricity through an unbelievable path.
    4. The Saphonian is a sailboat that opens its sailing but it forgets to pull up its anchor à it never sail!
    No reply, No sign, no curiosity to know about my analysis of performances and my prototype, nothing at all!
    Then to protect our (Tunisian) Institutions and our state VIPs, I informed them.

    To date and one month after, my email to the ‘innovators’ remains unanswered. So those who had received even micro sign from Saphon-Energy are macro lucky!

    Have a nice day,
    Best regards,
     
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  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks RSFNF, that sounds about what I would expect. The design made no more sense to me than a perpetual motion machine, but I always like to keep an open mind.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Pete

    Pete Member

    I'm never sure why people spend so much time badly 'reinventing the wheel'...
     
  13. Jay Reynolds

    Jay Reynolds Senior Member

    You can get useable energy from any motion, but simplicity is a hallmark of efficiency.
    Then there is whimsical intricacy:
    http://www.strandbeest.com/

     
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  14. Jazzy

    Jazzy Senior Member

    Might as well sling pulleys onto oak trees or something. It has been done before. I remember seeing it in a Whole Earth Catalog. It sorta works. A Tree House with braided stainless steel wires run to large branch tips could wind a whole load of generators back and forth, with rectification, etc., and charge up a mighty battery.
    Or do away with the rotary and merely pull samarium magnets through coils, etc., etc. If you want speed there are cheap pulley jacks in hardware stores which can be used the other way round.
     
  15. Saphon Energy

    Saphon Energy New Member

    Dear Mick,
    thank you for your intellectual curiosity and your open mind! we've been following your discussion since it started but we weren't in a position to interact properly as we've been extremely busy and focused in R&D. today, we're glad to share with you our news and views:
    - the Saphonian isn't "Dead" as proudly claimed one of the contributor (RSFNF)! the design has been substantially improved over the last 2 years moving from version 1 to version 5 and reaching its final industrial design.
    - after successful assessments and tests, Saphon Energy has recently entered in a strategic partnership with Microsoft Corporation to properly prepare and execute the industrial phase.
    - Saphon is currently under the spotlight of other global players to discuss various partnerships.
    - you can rest assured that the Saphonian is efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly!

    With regards to the technology, a couple of clarification:
    - we aren't challenging Betz law. what we're saying is that betz limit is simply not applicable in our model since the paradigm and the assumptions are completely different.
    - the technology has radically evolved and new patents have been registered (not published yet).

    We found your skepticism healthy and normal. We didn't expect otherwise since the revolutionary kinematics supporting the Saphonian wasn't disclosed yet. soon, we will be making some announcements that will make many understand how we're changing the way we deal with wind!
    best regards,
    Saphon Energy team
     
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  16. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    And here's a more recent video you posted, version 4 of 5


    [​IMG]
    It has what resembles an inverted umbrella shape (replacing your earlier dish shape), facing the wind, and connected to some mechanical linkage that makes it follow a kind of rolling pattern. You then claim to have some secret way of converting this motion to energy in a super efficient manner.

    So forgive me if I remain skeptical. Perhaps you could detail the level of due diligence that Microsoft's 4Afrika did before they signed you up? What tests of your technology did they have performed?
     
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  17. bruce

    bruce New Member

    Reading the patent it seems pretty clear that it's working by utilizing a series of hydraulic cylinders which are pumping hydraulic fluid as the working medium. Running a hydrolic pump backwards, essentially, to extract energy from the wind. Fairly clever. You can see from the motion above that the various portions of the base plate on the moving portion are becoming closer and further from the fixed base plate and the hydraulic cylinders are between the two so you can imagine the pistons moving back and forth inside said cylinders and thus transmitting power.

    To my eye the movement in the video above is not smooth enough to be as efficient as they are suggesting, but that's gut feel not data. I'd also be concerned about the amount of point force the "thunking" motion causes in terms of wear and tear. Finally, having lived in high wind areas (gusts to 120mph+) and ice storms (up to 2" thick ice coating every individual branch), this current design doesn't look nearly durable enough nor am I clear that it will work in natural winds (gusty).

    Finally, the issue of startup wind speed to overcome initial inertia is not discussed and can be a challenge.

    Overall, a clever idea but not clear on actual efficiency, durability, and usefulness in real-world conditions. Which just means they should keep working on it and exploring the potential. If it can be made to work and those hurdles overcome then this might be a useful addition to our energy generation portfolio.


    P.S. reminds me of the ribbon wind harvester invention: http://www.humdingerwind.com/#/wi_overview/ (flash required :-/ ) or here:
     
  18. camber

    camber New Member

    The phenomenon is real and has a fluid dynamic explanation. The forward singular point is unstable that leads to an instability which is trapped by this contraption. I will list appropriate reference to a paper next time.
    You all may also have noticed coning motion of a descending parachute...
     
  19. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    I am highly skeptical about this project too. Not only I doubt the efficiency claims, but what I find absolutely impossible are the claims about scalability and cost. Saphon tells that mathematical models show the system is scalable to dimensions (or power?) of classical wind turbines. The biggest wind turbine has the diameter of 164m, and wind turbines with the diameter of 30m are already considered rather small. After seeing the latest Saphonian turbine model in works (it has about 1m in diameter), and seeing the eccentric forces it transmits to the mast, already at a rather mild wind, I have troubles imagining a dish of 2-3m, or even the same dish in a really strong wind. I do not believe there is an economical way to build a 30m dish or bigger.

    They claim the Saphon turbine has 1.7 times the output of a regular wind turbine. I assume they speak about the same diameter. In that case, to achieve the power of a 30m diameter windmill, they would have to build a dish of 23m in diameter 30/sqrt(1.7) = 23. At the 164m windmill they would need a 126m dish. I would like to see them building it, and building it cheaper than the classical aerofoils. No way, on my mind.

    EDIT: in some videos or documents they claim being 1.7 times more efficient, in others twice, and in an article at wamda.com it is written it "would be 2.3 times more efficient than older models". Even if we take the factor of 2.3, the 30m diametr would still correspond to a 20m dish, and the 164m diameter turbine to a 108m dish.

    Watch for yourself the eccentric forces Saphon exercises on the support, and how the mini dish shakes with the mast in their newest video.



    I have also troubles imagining how the dish could survive any stronger wind. Already this small one would be difficult to keep safe at a strong wind, let alone a dish of a bigger size. Unlike at aerofoils that you can position with the minimal air resistance, with the Saphon, you do not have much chance. Whether you position it frontally, sideways, or backwards, there will be an order of magnitude stronger forces being transferred on the construction, anyway.

    Another huge problem would be the life-time - with all that vibrations, shaking, eccentricity, and huge forces acting on the construction, I do not believe its life expectancy could be anywhere close to the classical wind turbines and their generators that run pretty smoothly in comparison with this.

    It is also funny in the documents published by Saphon, they speak about noise and vibrations being a huge problem at recent wind turbines. I simply do not believe the Saphonian turbine could be less noisy. I'd tell it will be the exact opposite.

    Nevertheless, they now also claim that until 2017 they will build a windfarm of 50 Saphonian turbines in India, with the total output power of 1 MW. It is mentioned in the video, or also for example in this article from today:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...t-Carthage-spell-end-offshore-wind-farms.html
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 3:09 AM
  20. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    There is another new article about Saphonians, from April 13, at the following address:
    http://www.wamda.com/memakersge/2016/04/saphon-the-tunisian-wind-energy-revolution-is-official

    Besides others it claims:
    If I am skeptical about the efficiency, I do not believe this claim at all. I see no way this complicated and massive system could be cheaper to produce than traditional wind turbines. Although they apparently did recently a demo to Microsoft representatives, they did not publish any data, and we do not know exactly how big the dish of the demo device is, and what is its output power at certain wind speed. Hence it is hard to compare it with a specific classical wind turbines, but looking for the cost of small ones, I see that for example at Alibaba at turbines with blades of around 2 meters (therefore the circular area more then 10 times bigger than the demo dish) the prices start as low as some $160. Besides others, the turbines also use a very simple slim mast unlike the massive (yet still shaking) construction shown in the latest Saphon's demo video - alone the mast would be much more expensive at Saphon.

    Another thing, that I consider a warning sign, is the constant argumentation of Saphon that their system is inspired by the ancient Carthago sailboats, and using bionic research of fish and birds. Personally I see only a remote resemblance to the work of a sail, and even less I see where the bionic research was applied. These claims sound more like sales pitches with the sole purpose to impress an uneducated listener.

    In the article they also write:
    It would be interesting to know what data the decisions of the early investors were based on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 12:14 PM
  21. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Since Saphon already has a fully functional prototype, and since they watch this thread, I hope they will react and publish some data, so that they can persuade us better about the viability of their concept. I do not demand anything that would endanger their pending patents or IP. All we need is the diameter of the demo dish (estimated to approximately 1 meter), and the power it generates at a specific wind speed. They can either give us the output power and RPM's at several wind speeds (i.e. 3m/s, 6m/s, 10m/s), or just the power, RPM, and the wind speed values in ideal conditions.

    It would be also interesting to know what is the maximum wind speed, the turbine can withstand, and what is the operator of the turbine supposed to do in case of a stronger wind.

    Furthermore, it would be interesting to know what is the diameter of the 20kW turbines planned for the wind farm to be built in India until 2017. Traditional wind turbines have the rotor diameter of around 10 meters at the nominal power output of 20 kW at the wind speed of 10 m/s. So, if the Saphonian turbine is 2 times more efficient, the diameter of the dish should be 7 meters. I really wonder whether they are capable of building such a huge dish and a correspondingly strong and high mast or tower, to be 50% cheaper than existing turbines of the same power (Alibaba lists prices of $15k-$30k for 20kW systems, if you ignore some suspiciously cheap offers starting around $1k).

    EDIT: in the video below, the question about the maximum wind speed was asked during a conference in 2015. Saphon seems to claim there is no upper limit, and that the Saphonian turbine poses less resistance to the wind than traditional turbines. That is a totally ridiculous and nonsensical claim, because the drag profile of the dish will be orders of magnitude higher, regardless how it moves. At strong winds, the axial and eccentric forces transmitted to the support will be clearly enormous, and far exceeding the forces at common systems.



    In the video they also make clear the nominal power of the prototype is 1 kW. Existing 1 kW turbines have the rotor diameter of ~2.5m (area of 4.9m²). Theirs is ~1m (area of 0.8m²). It means they are not twice as efficient at the same area, but in fact six times more efficient than existing concepts! I wonder why they do not proudly tell it, and speak only about twice the output. Probably because it is physically simply impossible even at 100% efficiency - best turbine efficiencies are at 40%, so there is no way you could get six times more than that. The theoretical maximum is 59.3% given by the Betz's law, but even if it did not apply to their turbine (which is questionable too), they could not exceed 100% anyway. More likely, the 1 kW claim at the prototype is strongly exaggerated, or calculated for a very strong wind force (that the dish or mast may not survive anyway).

    They also continue to claim the Saphonian turbine transforms the axial back-and-fore movement through a system of hydraulic pistons to a radial motion. On the demo video I do not see any pistons - the dish rotates the eccentric axis or crankshaft mechanically, and it then transmits the rotative motion to the generator directly. I do not see any hydraulic system there. Though, in fact I consider it better, because it is doubtful that any high efficiency and durability could be achieved with a hydraulic transmission.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 1:39 PM
  22. Ralf T. Dog

    Ralf T. Dog New Member

    One thing most people are not getting, the diameter is meaningless. The important question is, what is the total surface exposed to the wind. As this is a disk, not a traditional bladed fan, you can get a much more surface with a much lower diameter. One other issue is the jerkiness of it's movement. If you look at the larger versions, and only view the movement in one axis at a time, it looks like a much smoother sine wave.
     
  23. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Not really. The efficiency data as well as the Betz's law refer to the swept area (the area of the diameter of the blades), not to the dimension of the blades alone. And Saphon self speaks clearly about the swept areas, when comparing the efficiency:
    At a traditional turbine, you could simply add more blades to get more surface facing the wind, but it would not help because you would increase the drag and turbulences. This will be exactly the problem with the dish too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 3:56 PM
  24. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    ... you can read why only three blades are mostly used, for example here:
    http://explorecuriocity.org/Explore...ind-turbines-have-more-than-3-blades-193.aspx
    (bold emphasis added)
    And you see also the problem of the Saphonian turbine here. If you watch the video, you can see that it turns very slowly, has very high drag, and certainly creates high turbulence. These are the reasons, among others, why I do not believe their claims about the efficiency.
     
  25. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Another reason why I doubt their efficiency claims is the fact that their system uses only the drag force of the wind. Although it does it in an unconventional way, it is still mostly just the drag force like at ancient mills, or at ancient sailboats (that they like to use as their sources of inspiration anyway). It fails to take the advantage of the lift force, that we know at wings, modern sails, or ... at modern wind turbines. They could perhaps close the concave front of the dish with a flat cover, and incline the dish more, to transmit a bit more of aerodynamic lift to the shaft, and reducing so the the drag. Although it would be barely comparable to blade turbines, it could improve their efficiency a bit. However, it would still not solve one of the biggest problems the system has - the wobbling caused by the eccentricity. If the system rotated faster due to more lift and lower drag, it would make the wobbling only a bigger problem, and the turbine would break down even quicker.

    Despite all the critics I wrote, I still do not think that their invention is an outright scam. I see a lot of work behind it, a lot of creativity, and also some nice engineering work. Although I remain very skeptical about the efficiency and cost claims, and see a bunch of other problems (especially the safety and the durability), I applaud them, and I think they deserve getting some funding to allow them continuing in the development, even if it should be just to show the world that this is not the way to go.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 2:57 PM
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  26. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    ... sorry for flooding the thread, but besides closing the frontal opening of the dish, and inclining it more sideways against the wind, to reduce the drag, and to increase the lift, they could reduce the wobbling too: they could use three dishes on separate arms, instead of just one. Although it would never run as smoothly as blade turbines do, by using three arms instead of a single one, they would get rid of a big part of the asymmetry and instability. The system would be very likely still quite far from the efficiency, stability, and durability of a normal wind turbine, and much more expensive, but might become an amusing attraction for eccentric millionaires.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016 at 5:04 PM
  27. lvxlvx

    lvxlvx New Member

    You are COMPLETELY right.
     
  28. lvxlvx

    lvxlvx New Member

    CORRECT!
     
  29. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    Yet another comment, to correct my previous calculations. The latest version of the Saphonian turbine is in fact nothing else than a single-bladed wind turbine, with a very short arm length, and with a "blade" of a very high drag (and hence very inefficient). So the swept area of the turbine is not equal to the diameter of the dish, we have to add the length of the arm to it. Looking at the video again, the outer diameter of the swept area may be ~1.5m. The surface of the swept area would be then 1.8m². If it gave 2.3 times more power than HAWT, it would correspond to a turbine with the swept area of 4m², hence the diameter of 2.3m.

    This comment by Saphon can mean only two things: either its author never saw Betz's law and does not have even the basic education in physics, or it is an outright lie with the criminal intent to deceive investors. I hope it is just the first case, although it is hard to believe, because they certainly already measured the efficiency of their turbine.

    As already posted by others earlier in this thread, the details of Betz's law can be found for example in WikiPedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz's_law

    I think the following sentence from the beginning of the page, explains it clearly enough even for those who have no education in physics:
    And of course, there is absolutely no way the Saphonian turbine could extract more energy. Betz's law applies to it in the exactly same way. It cannot stop the entering air, because it would cut its supply. Which in fact is also the case, with the dish - due to the high efficiency in stopping the incoming air (very high drag), the fast wind flows around the pocket of the dead/slow air, resulting so in a strongly reduced efficiency.

    Their own video posted earlier by Mick above, shows the evidence of it perfectly. They were foolish enough to attach ribbons to the artificial wind source, so that we can clearly see that the dish does not suck at all air from larger area than its own diameter, but that it is in fact the exact opposite - the wind flows around it, just like the theory predicts. You can clearly see the ribbons flowing outwards the dish, not at all inwards like in their diagram (shown below with my rugged corrected version)

    [​IMG]

    saphon.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016 at 4:46 PM
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  30. lvxlvx

    lvxlvx New Member


    Everything correct. But to me the most important thing (apart from lies about the Betz law) is the fact that the depression behind the disk, together with the eccentric movements of the disk itself, will lead to enormous loads that would destroy any installation with winds over 5-6 m/s, unless said enormous loads would be balanced by similarly enormous structures supporting the disk. As the energy extracted by the wind is exponentially proportional to the speed of wind itself, and given that the system would have somehow to close the disk over 5-6 m/s, the production couldn't be more than negligible.
     
  31. bluesoul

    bluesoul New Member

    Even their marketing is erroneous. They claim to be inspired by nature and sail boats when performance sails and natural flying devices such as bird wings or flying seeds share a common structure very similar to standard wind turbine blades. Also they claim to have a non rotational device when their plate is rotating. The only nice thing about their invention is the mesmerizing 3d movement of the plate.
     
  32. txt29

    txt29 Active Member

    There is yet another video of the Saphon dish. This one nicely and clearly shows the shaking and twisting of the mast with the dish, partly caused by the gusts of the wind and the high drag of the dish, and partly by the unbalanced asymmetrical construction:

    Looking at it, I doubt the system would survive more than couple of hours of continuous operation. And even if it did, I cannot imagine that its lifetime could surpass more than a few weeks (unless it was built in a completely wind-free area). The full original video is below:

     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016 at 4:32 PM