Sep 18, 2015 | By Kira

Aerospace engineer Robert Yost has developed and patented a micro wind turbine device that is capable of generating power in wind speeds as low as 1 mph, and as fast as 80 mph. In order to demonstrate how his 3D printed MicroCubes could revolutionize the way we generate renewable energy, Yost, the founder of American Wind, will drive across the United States in an electric vehicle powered by four MicroCubes without stopping even once to plug in the battery for a recharge.

Each individual MicroCube stands at only 9x9x9 inches and weighs 3 lbs, but is capable of generating 3-phase AC power, which can either be converted to DC power for backup storage, or directly connected to power grids. For increased power, MicroCubes can be stacked behind one another in what Yost calls a ‘wind wall’ to capture each other’s output. According to the company, a single MicroCube can generate more power than a standard solar panel for a fraction of the size, and stacking several Cubes together in the same space it takes for one solar panel can produce 18x as much energy. While engineers have previously worked with miniature turbines and combining multiple turbines together, Yost’s patented design stands apart due to its truly impressive efficiency. This deciding factor comes from his unique, multiple airfoil design, which captures a high level of windflow, says the company. "Other options don't work because they don't produce the amount of electricity that our unit generates," said Yost. "A U.S. patent examiner told us there has never been a generator created with the characteristics of the MicroCube. That type of efficiency makes all the difference." 

A 'wall wind' of stacked MicroCubes

3D printing technology, provided with the support of 3D Systems’ cloud-based manufacturing service Quickparts, played a major role in helping Yost realize this project. Rapid prototyping processes and the ability to explore many different materials with specific qualities allowed him to work one more than 20 different iterations of the MicroCube, each improving on the last. In fact, Yost was able to manufacture flexible, durable 3D printed plastic parts and assembles that are indistinguishable from injection molded-product parts in all aspects except for time and money: his work was done at a fraction of the cost and in a quarter of the time. “Quickparts enables us to use 3D printing to explore what works and what doesn’t work on a production part,” said Yost. “We can make multiple changes and print those changes without investing thousands of dollars in molds or machining parts out of expensive materials.” Quickparts utilized 3D System’s SLS printing technology and three different materials: DuraForm polyamide (PA), DuraForm glass-filled (GF), and DuraForm HST Composite.

Yost is acutely aware of his many critics and nonbeleivers, and so he has come up with a bold adventure to prove his concept works. He has installed four MicroCubes on the roof of a Ford C-Max Energi electric car, generating what he estimates will be 2,800 watts per hour to keep its lithium-ion battery charged. While electric vehicles have been on the market for some time, promising to help us reduce our deadly carbon footprints and reliance on non-renewable fuels, the reality is that most electric cars can only drive short distances—anywhere from 25-312 miles—before they need to be recharged. If Yost’s plan to drive the thousands of miles across America without stopping to recharge his vehicle works, he will have created a cost-effective and Earth-friendly power alternative, and accomplished what other said could never be done.

Additional applications for the MicroCube include stacking them by the thousands in populated cities, where, unlike traditional turbines, they can efficiently deal with the turbulent air conditions. They can also be placed into cellular towers to produce power during disaster periods, or to increase power on busy days.

Short clip of the MicroCube's capacities

His inspiration came from watching an Alabama tornado in 2011 and observing how the wind was harnessed by a pedestal fan. As an engineer with a backround working for major aerospace companies such as Boeing and GE Aircraft Engines, Yost founded American Wind and quickly put his skills to work. "Yes, I've heard all the critics state that this is perpetual motion, which can't be done," he said. "We also hear that wind turbines cannot produce enough energy in such a small form factor as the MicroCube. We are not breaking any physics laws with the MicroCube, but we are pushing the limits of what is known today. And we have the test results to prove it works."



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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jay sapariya wrote at 3/19/2016 6:23:20 AM:

what is the price of this generator?

Ken wrote at 9/23/2015 7:33:05 AM:

In case any of the 'investors' are reading this, if by chance you think the product has been mis-represented, or in case any unrealistic or deceptive methods were used to get you to invest, you can report it to the SEC. I have no knowledge of any wrong doing at all, it's probably just scientific ignorance gone wild ... but just in case someone out there needs help, here's where such things might be reported:

Evan Fusco wrote at 9/22/2015 6:11:19 PM:

Idiotic... guarantee he won't have any sort of independent oversight on his trip to validate his results. No matter what he'll have a net energy loss unless he only uses the turbines when the car is not in motion and takes them off when he is actually driving...can you say 2 year trip to get across teh country?

Dan wrote at 9/22/2015 5:39:08 PM:

"estimates will be 2,800 watts per hour" ... a watt isn't a unit of energy, this statement makes no sense. He might be referring to watt-hours not watts but then you wouldn't say "watt-hours per hour". You'd just say "watts". No basic grasp of electricity, or other areas of physics it seems. Thought it was an April Fools at first!

Grant Gabrielson wrote at 9/21/2015 9:06:40 PM:

I'm a in high school and I can even tell you that this won't work, this would violate the second law of thermodynamics... The wind resistance added by putting these on top of the car is greater than the energy produced. He thinks that he's created a perpetual motion machine which is impossible. Someone never even took a physics 1 class.

The Mechanics' Mechanical Engineer wrote at 9/21/2015 7:13:54 PM:

Apparently nobody has heard of Betz' Law of efficiency for wind turbines. The absolute best energy conversion efficiency you can achieve is 59.3%. So unless this guy is going to park his car into the wind for over half the trip, he's not going to go very far or very fast. Do yourself a favor - learn some fluid dynamics, run CFD simulations, and talk with some real engineers.

Mitch wrote at 9/21/2015 6:25:53 PM:

I believe that the C-Max Energi is a hybrid, not a pure electric car. It is possible that he could drive this coast to coast without stopping for a charge, but probably not without filling up with gas. This is not as "green" as the article infers. Perhaps a better test would be to fit a pure BEV like the Nissan Leaf with the turbines and see how far you could travel.

Dwayne wrote at 9/21/2015 2:08:14 PM:

you start with a fully charged vehicle and take the best wind route ?

kb wrote at 9/20/2015 10:58:52 PM:

I hope they fit in the trunk for when he's driving to not waste the car's energy with extra drag. Also be ready to wait days before having enough energy to drive a few miles lol

RB wrote at 9/19/2015 7:05:01 PM:

This technology could work! As a matter of fact, it has been in place for millennia. In order for it to work, however, he would need much bigger turbines, then cover them with a light solid material, tilt them up, and constantly adjust the angle to capture the optimal pushing force of the wind.

Jeff wrote at 9/19/2015 5:07:46 PM:

It can work, and doesn't violate the laws of physics. The comments here seem to assume that "driving across America without stopping to recharge" means constantly in motion. That sounds to me like a clever play on words. He can stop to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. He will be stopped at times in traffic and at traffic lights. He can allow the car to coast down every incline. And he put no time limit on the trip. Added up, I bet he can easily justify spending 2 hours stopped for every 1 in motion (maybe 3 to 1) without a non critical person considering it unduly extending the trip (over the time you would take in a gas vehicle). Using that method, its very possible IF its as efficient as he says.

Cyber-dog wrote at 9/18/2015 8:22:29 PM:

What he has inadvertently stumbled on is an efficient air braking system.

ThatGuy wrote at 9/18/2015 6:34:09 PM:

I hope he has AAA..... Maybe I am reading this right, but he says that he can drive non-stop from coast to coast: "If Yost’s plan to drive the thousands of miles across America without stopping to recharge his vehicle works.." He might be able to eventually drive across the US with stops to let his gerbil cage turbines capture wind power, but he isn't going to drive $3000 miles straight. I bet him $1000 dollars that he cannot drive non-stop across the US (I'll let him stop for bathroom breaks and to eat) powered ONLY by his cubes. We can write the cashiers checks and have a bank or hold them. Expect the Dept of Commerce to be visiting him soon- and if not, Issac Newton will start throwing apples.

Bill wrote at 9/18/2015 6:21:45 PM:

The only way to drive across the US without a recharge would be to only drive a few hours a day and wind recharge while stopped. While driving they turbines cannot generate more power than the power consumed by the extra drag, with the possible exception of driving into a strong headwind at a slow to moderate speed.

Chris wrote at 9/18/2015 4:42:51 PM:

Conservation of energy says you can't get more out than you put in. This could charge his battery while he his sitting still with the engine off if the wind is blowing. Otherwise the added drag of these fans will decrease his fuel economy by an amount greater than the energy they generate.

Willie McKemie wrote at 9/18/2015 4:09:13 PM:

"Watts per hour"? Perpetual motion? Over unity?

Otto Souta wrote at 9/18/2015 3:21:39 PM:

Rubbish, it cannot work. It is in fact aerodynamic brake, turbine conversion has a low efficiency, so the actual travelled distance will be shorter. Back to drawing board.

bruce dp wrote at 9/18/2015 1:34:12 PM:

Also, the text could leave the reader to think mounting wind generators on the roof of a plug-in-hybrid vehicle gives free electricity. That would be overunity (you do not get something for nothing). The electricity gained from the wind turbine tunnels on the roof of the vehicle is less than the extra energy expended to make up for the added the wind resistance (less energy generated than was used up = overunity). Your media outlet ought to proof these wild claims, and reject oddball overunity investment trolling copy like this one.

Mr. Marcus wrote at 9/18/2015 1:05:48 PM:

1st I read Patent and later 3D Systems. At this point stop reading, and giving it a middle finger. I think the time is here to not give this people they 5 minutes of fame.

Mike Bergey wrote at 9/18/2015 12:37:39 PM:

Total rubbish. Multi-blade small wind turbines have been "invented" hundreds of times and have never been economical. Second Law of Thermodynamics, Betz Limit, etc. means his car will consume more energy, not less, when its driving with the turbines on the roof. There are literally thousands of patents on similar devices - which says more about the quality of the patent approval process than it does about wind turbine technology.

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