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Passive wind technology? (How do we harness the power of wind without storing it as electricity?)

 
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I hear a lot of people nay-saying wind power, because it's not always energy efficient at powering batteries. But, wind power has been harnessed for centuries without any batteries...but those sorts of technologies don't ever seem to come up. Why?

I thought I'd start this thread as a place to share lots of passive wind power technology over the ages. And hopefully people can share ideas for how we can incorporate passive wind technology into our lives!

Let's start with the clothesline! Clothes are dried without any power other than that of clipping it up on the clothesline. Sun and wind do the rest!



And also sailboats!


There's also the quintessential grain mills:



And the wind powered sawmills (picture taken from Low Tech Magazine's article, Wind Powered Factories: History (and Future) of Industrial Windmills):



More info from Low Tech Magazine:

Besides food production, two other major applications of windmill technology were the production of paper (using ropes and sails from ships as a raw material) and the sawing of wood. Windmills were also crushing chalk (to make cement), grinding mortar, draining mines, ventilating mineshafts (and even a prison), polishing glass and making gunpowder.



What are other ways we can harness the power of the wind, without needing to store it as electrical power first?
 
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I love this thread already Nicole!  Wind is the solution to a problem I haven't identified yet.
I'll add a couple of ideas for drying using wind to ventilate.
Firstly in Kent, England in particular cowls were used to draw warm air through the buildings of hop kilns to dry hops for brewing.
image from wikipedia
Oast house  I'm pretty sure that similar structure were used in the middle east for airconditioning buildings?
I came accross this article in the Herald earlier this year and was fascinated.  Briefly they have harnessed the wind on the coast of Ayrshire and have used it to concentrate seawater into brine to create salt from, by trickling the water through a huge tower stacked with blackthorn branches. Amazing!
Wind was also used in drying buildings for other pruposes in the past. In cornwall they dried the china clay (used in various things from toothpaste to paper) in open sided buildings.
Of course it was also used in barns when winnowing: that is why many old barns have doors in the middle opposite each other: when open the chaff is blown away as you are threshing.Swedish barn image from wikipedia.
 
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Hi from a Wind Farm Project in Taiwan.

Producing electricity is for some the red blanket but as I am working since 2002 in Wind Farms I can say that some had a return of investment after 4 years.

But that's not the meaning of the post I reckon.
Just the most simple way using wind power is used since millennia by throwing your corn into the air and separate the dust and husk from your harvests.
Curing expensive hams like the Parma relies fully on wind or more a slow and gentle breeze
Everybody has made the use of wind in the back on a push bike to get faster home
Windmill water pumps are using since 2000 years wind
If you are in the desert/tropics and get the chance to sit in a wind tower you will love the wind
a wet towel around your drink container does magic in the wind - see evaporative cooling
Stack ventilation is quite common for passive cooling in the house -see Beddington city in the UK
Many tools could be driven by wind if you can control the RPM by pitch control
 
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A small wind turbine could be used to run an air compressor, compressed air could be stored in recycled propane tanks, like a battery, and used to power all sorts of neat things. I believe the process of air compression would also create some surplus warmth.
Anybody tried it? I’ve wanted to for a long time.
 
Nancy Reading
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B Davis wrote:A small wind turbine could be used to run an air compressor, compressed air could be stored in recycled propane tanks, like a battery, and used to power all sorts of neat things. I believe the process of air compression would also create some surplus warmth.
Anybody tried it? I’ve wanted to for a long time.


I've had the same thought here. We certainly have a surplus of wind, especially during winter when a bit of hysteresis warmth would come in handy.  My hubby uses airtools a lot in his business servicing and repairing cars, and I'm sure this is one of our bigger electricity uses around the home.  Although I think a little micro hydro compressor might be first to be constructed.
So many projects, so little time!
 
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Alot of the nay saying around wind power is cost efficiency. But cost is relative, if your looking to be self sufficient then wind is a better option in the winter than say a generator. However if your looking to power a whole grid in an area with low wind speeds and tall trees, then wind turbines probably not your best bet.
 
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compressing air is one way of storing wind energy but lifting water is often the most practical.  Falling water is one of the easiest to regulate sored energies.  Therefore if you have both wind and water as resources in your permaculture plan then using the wind to transfer water from the lowest point to the highest point in your plan stores energy.
 
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Back to Topic,

using wind is sure some good energy which has only ONE significant glitch.

As above mentioned you need free access and no obstacles and here is the point.

The power becomes costly because you need to build your equipment where the wind blows and that can take lots of unplanned delays because of the wind.
Its one experience that I made in 20 years with all wind farms.

But finally it paid my real life farm and I give up my job and retire in my permaculture food forest...
The rat race has either reached also into offshore where studied youngsters dictate the progress and are stunned that the nature not listens to them, neither do I.
 
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That sounds like a great idea, B. Are you thinking like: the wind turbine charges a battery for the air compressor to use? Or is it somehow wired directly  in? Is there electric exchange at all? Or is the energy transfer purely mechanical?
 
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B Davis wrote:A small wind turbine could be used to run an air compressor, compressed air could be stored in recycled propane tanks, like a battery, and used to power all sorts of neat things. I believe the process of air compression would also create some surplus warmth.
Anybody tried it? I’ve wanted to for a long time.



Many Amish do this.  The communities that allow air power but not electricity.  The ones that allow solar or air power, everyone does solar because it's way cheaper up front.

I have looked into it for my planned off grid shop, and I think my best answer is a high efficiency electric compressor running direct from solar while there is excess sun and large storage tank(s).  I simply don't have wind, and the expensive part of off grid solar is by far the batteries.  By building a water tower (cistern on the hill) and banking compressed air and possibly heat and cool, I can run a much more modest battery system that is both cheaper up front and much less maintenance over time.  
 
Nancy Reading
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I have another post that is relevant here: https://permies.com/t/154336/Catching-leaves-ditches#1208817


Wind is one of my biggest problems.  Laden with salt it damages my plants, evergreen leaves are shredded in winter and most trees grow at 30 degrees t6o vertical.  This year I cleared a new part of my garden, hoping to grow more perennial vegetables and useful shrubs in lee of Sycamore trees.  I decided on a whim to create mini berms, about 18 inches from ridge to base, parallel to the wind direction (prevailing winds generally from SW), to give a bit of shelter.  This also gives more shady/damp and well drained/sunny areas (hopefully!), however this autumn I noticed that they collected the sycamore leaves really well.


I'm sure I've seen another person post about catching snow using fences or swales in a similar way in an arid area. In these cases the wind is bringing a resource for you and the passive design captures something physical, rather than the air itself being the resource captured.
 
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R Scott wrote:

B Davis wrote:A small wind turbine could be used to run an air compressor, compressed air could be stored in recycled propane tanks, like a battery, and used to power all sorts of neat things. I believe the process of air compression would also create some surplus warmth.
Anybody tried it? I’ve wanted to for a long time.



Many Amish do this.  The communities that allow air power but not electricity.  The ones that allow solar or air power, everyone does solar because it's way cheaper up front.

I have looked into it for my planned off grid shop, and I think my best answer is a high efficiency electric compressor running direct from solar while there is excess sun and large storage tank(s).  I simply don't have wind, and the expensive part of off grid solar is by far the batteries.  By building a water tower (cistern on the hill) and banking compressed air and possibly heat and cool, I can run a much more modest battery system that is both cheaper up front and much less maintenance over time.  




Yes indeed this video shows how some Amish do this ->





You have to adapt to what you have most of, where I live I have much sun but the trees around me block the wind so it makes the most sense to use the solar with making heat for solar cooking or charging batteries...

Thru history others use wind to pump water...    This Dutch mill pumps water ->






If you have a high amount of wind,  say you live on a coast line, then one can use the wind to grind flour,  or pump water,     Storing in compressed air form ( as a large tank )   is not as efficient as storing in a battery,  




 
pollinator
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Wind-powered compressed air for pond oxygenation, circulation, and health:


Also for compressed air storage, see Low Tech Magazine's article on compressed air storage methods.
 
George Yacus
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Travel via hot air balloon, zeppelin, or dirigible.

Scientific or photographic landscape observation via weather balloon, or inexpensive landscape photography via kite or balloon.  (A lower tech alternative to drones.)

Storing wind energy as happiness via recreational kite surfing, hang-gliders, regular gliders, parasailing, and feeling the breeze on your face.

Natural air dispersal of seed via samara, or artificial method of broadcasting information via leaflet drop.
 
George Yacus
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Creating low pressure (suction) to draw poop-smell out of an outhouse via appropriately designed ductwork.
 
Mart Hale
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Interesting a wind powered sawmill.
 
George Yacus
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**An eerie wind blows open a shutter, and a deep scratchy voice is heard...**

Trees.


I'm sorry, did anyone else in this thread hear that?

Ghost of Bill Mollison briefly appears...

Trees.


Huh?

"It's obvious that the thickness of a tree is largely determined by the amount of movement it's given by the wind..."


...

"the tree eats the wind and turns it into wood.  (Source) "



So you're saying that...trees are a natural and miraculous "technology" which utilize the wind to put on stronger and better quality wood; and therefore, how, where, and in what density we plant our trees in permaculture relative to the magnitude of the wind ultimately determines the quality of lumber yield!?  That's absolutely brilliant!  But where are my manners, please enjoy your rest now!

**apparition disappears, then faint 80's music is heard gradually getting louder**

Is that...80's music I hear playing?



Oh man, this thread is getting weird.

**American actor Pauly Shore from the movie Biodome dances by, and a research article from Biosphere 2 proving Mollison correct falls out of his coveralls.   The apparition briefly returns, shakes fist at the annoying noise, the returns to rest.**
 
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My ultra modern economized cloths line comes with a double Energy-Star rating.  It only requires 1 vegan burrito to hang and pack dry clothing away for a whole days work.
IMG_0422.JPG
Ultra modern high efficiency cloths line.
Ultra modern high efficiency cloths line.
 
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I'd sure like to hear about it if you try this!
 
George Yacus
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Increasing lift (and therefore potential safety margins) for routine or emergency takeoff and landing of aircraft.

More direct headwinds down a runway enable pilots to take off and land in a much shorter distance and at slower ground-speeds compared with zero wind conditions.  This is safer, assuming there are no technically challenging crosswinds also present.  

Such dependable headwinds in more rural or developing locations can enable bush pilots (to include those flying helicopters) to reach very remote places in the world more easily and safely for the transfer of goods and essential services, to include things such as medical or emergency supply drop off or medical evacuations.  

Increased lift (achieved perhaps through strategic funneling via earthworks, hedges, structures, and/or tree placement)  could also enable increased cargo takeoff capacity for a given runway length.

Permaculture designers in developing locations or near air routes might want to at least have the thought in their back pocket.  Pilots are *always* looking for safe places to land.

I realize this is a super niche passive wind use, but the idea of a permaculture farm with a runway in the developed world is also intriguing (agritourism, anyone?)  I have a standing prediction that STOVL aircraft will be much more prevalent in the next two decades.  So maybe 30-50 years from now, beautiful properties which have any length of safe, flat, open fields with dependable winds would have unique long distance commuting or tourist options open up.
 
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How'd ya like to be the roofer on those grain drying near vertical roofs?
 
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Check out this awesome thread

https://permies.com/t/160287/Direct-heat-wind-turbine

It uses heat from the wind, produced by friction, to heat your home. It’s genius. Every energy conversion process is inefficient because of losing energy in the form of heat along the way. This captures that and uses it.
 
Steven Rodenberg
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I WAS A YOUNG ADULT WHEN THE ARAB OIL EMBARGO HIT.  !970's.  These ideas and the buildings of witch were all over the place.  None of them paned out as cost effective in the long run.  If you use a windmill to heat you can use it to generate electricity with the high friction generator in your house to produce enough physical heat to supplement a heat pump running at a 5-to-1 heat addition ratio to your house.  Above 10 horse power electric generators and motor efficiency approach high 90's%.  This is a good size windmill that might pay off on a farm or business.  In my case with a roof of R120 and walls of R35 and quadruple pane windows it is cheaper to go with electric heat pump along with an off grid oil or propane furnace for the coldest days,.  I have to pay a monthly $42 meter reading  fee tacked to a gas usage fee and gas transportation fee.
 
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Heat your home (or greenhouse) no batteries or electrickery is required.

https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2019/02/heat-your-house-with-a-water-brake-windmill.html
 
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Compressing air can generate a lot of low-grade heat.  If you can use it for building heat or drying, etc, that makes it far more worthwhile.  If you then re-expand the air in stages, re-warming it from ambient air, you can get over 100% return.  It takes a lot of hardware, though.  Standard gear is not built for efficiency at all - just look at all the tools that take a 5 HP compressor to do the job that a small electric motor would do.  
 
George Yacus
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Another "storing wind energy as happiness" post:

Turning wind into sound or music, to enhance sleep, or calm one's mind or mood.  Wind chimes:



The opposite emotional effect is also achievable, perhaps for whimsy's sake as public art.  Perhaps as background music for an eerie walk through the woods, or a play or holiday or festival.  The following video has scads of wind-powered musical contraptions if you jump ahead.



Practical possibilities for wind-to-sound technology:
  • Designing specifically for the visually impaired: "The main path entrance and braille map are here at the metal wind chimes.  The strawberries are by the D-sharp sound, the thorn-less blackberries are over by the A-flat, and the water closet is by the deep bamboo wind chimes
  • Designing for anyone; to point out dangerous, unique or easy to miss features on a landscape: e.g. Cliff edges around blind turns.  Frisbee golf launch pads.  Threatened species habitats.  Safety placards and signs.
  • Perhaps a larger, well amplified setup could be used to identify hazards to navigation for sailors (like off grid fog horns during reduced visibility)
  • With the right frequency, perhaps to deter a specific species of animal.  
  •  
    Steven Rodenberg
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    There are many people that would be disturbed with wind chimes at sleep time.
     
    Cath Chirgwin
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    Steven Rodenberg - The set up costs of a system like you describe are way, way higher. A small water brake with a vertical axis turbine could be set up very cheaply. There's no storage cost because you use the water in the brake as the heat reservoir, no batteries needed, and even if all you achieve is to raise the temperature through the house by a few degrees it will vastly reduce the number of days you need to use other forms of heating.

    That might be less of a point in your climate where perhaps you have more extremes of cold and hot days but here in the temperate UK we have more marginal days when an extra 5C would make all the difference. And we have a lot of days when it's the wind that makes the difference between needing to heat or not so capturing that would be a big win.
     
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    "Wind catching" for cooling and ventillation.  I'd only heard of passive wind cooling being used in the old "dog trot" designed houses until I saw this article today:
    https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210810-the-ancient-persian-way-to-keep-cool

    Very fascinating!  I believe another Permie may have shared the same article in another thread.
     
    Montana has cold dark nights. Perfect for the heat from incandescent light. Tiny ad:
    Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
    https://permies.com/t/40993/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
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