With approximately $ 400,000 in federal grants, the company is developing a turbine blade that automatically adapts to changing winds
BUFFALO, NY – For decades, companies eager to increase wind power production have relied on a simple strategy: make the blades of the wind turbine bigger.
Although generally effective, this approach has drawbacks. Namely, bigger machines cost more to build and install. And due to their increasing size, they are prone to costly breakdowns.
Atrevida Science, a University of Buffalo spinoff company, aims to solve these problems by developing dynamic wind turbine blades that automatically adapt to real-time changes in wind speed and direction.
Dubbed the active morphing blades ™, the design helps turbines capture wind more efficiently while dramatically reducing the risk of failure, say the founders of the company.
“We can keep making bigger wind turbine blades, or we can make them smarter,” says Claudia Maldonado, Founder and CEO of Atrevida, who developed technology licensed in the lab of John Hall, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. at the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Hall is Atrevida’s scientific advisor.
The morphing blade leads to efficiency, less breakdowns
The redesigned blade design has many possible applications, including use in aviation, aerospace, shipbuilding, unmanned aerial vehicles, onshore wind power generation, and other industries.
But Maldonado sees its greatest potential in offshore wind, an area in which the United States lags behind other countries.
To catch up, the Biden administration has pledged to create up to 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. That’s enough to power 10 million homes, according to the White House. The effort is part of a larger shift towards renewables and reducing fossil fuel emissions.
The morphing blades could help the United States meet the goal of offshore wind power, Hall says, because the design produces more power while requiring fewer towers and bulky platforms than conventional turbines.
The company believes its blades can operate 14% more efficiently than current turbines. This increase in production could add 1.4 million households (for a total of 11.4 million) if all planned offshore wind projects referenced by the Biden administration used the blades of Atrevida.
Power would also be more reliable, Hall says, citing studies from Sandia National Laboratories that suggest blade morphing can reduce turbine failures by up to 70%. In addition, the current blades are getting so big that it becomes more and more difficult to manufacture and transport them.
“Existing wind turbines, both on land and at sea, are based on 40-year-old technology,” says Hall. “A new design paradigm is needed to meet projected electricity demands while reducing fossil fuel emissions. “
Funding and partnerships help Atrevida grow
Since its founding in 2018, Atrevida has received support from various sources.
The company received approximately $ 400,000 as part of the Small Business Technology Transfer Program funding through the US Air Force, which is interested in how blades morphing can improve the performance of helicopters, airplanes, drones and other vehicles.
It has also received funding from the US National Science Foundation and the Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund, which is managed by UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnership office.
The company has partnered with UB’s Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory (SEESL) to perform experimental tests in the Ketter Hall wind tunnel. “We would like to thank Scot Weinreber[seniorinstrumentationspecialistatSEESL)andtheteamfortheirassistanceincarryingoutthesetestsTheyhavebeenaformidablepartner”saysMaldonado[seniorinstrumentationspecialistatSEESL)andsaystheteamfortheirassistanceinconductingthesetremeansMendouspartadoner”[spécialisteprincipaleninstrumentationauSEESL)etl’équipepourleuraidedanslaréalisationdecestestsIlsontétéunpartenaireformidable»ditMaldonado[seniorinstrumentationspecialistatSEESL)andtheteamfortheirassistanceinconductingthesetestsThey’vebeenatremendouspartner”saysMaldonado
Among the other achievements of the company:
- It is one of 9 companies selected from over 600 for the first 2021 cohort of Venture for ClimateTech, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority accelerator program administered by NextCorps and SecondMuse.
- Selected as regional Cleantech Open Northeast finalist in 2020.
- Chosen to participate in VentureWell’s 2021 ASPIRE Cleantech program.
- Reach the second round of the Most Fundable Businesses competition led by Pepperdine University.
- Named a 2019 finalist in the Most Valuable Pitch Competition organized by the Technology Accelerator Fund at State University of New York.
- Named 2019 Semi-Finalist and 2020 Finalist of the Henry A. Panasci Jr. Tech Entrepreneurship Competition at UB.
Additionally, Atrevida is an ECO Incubator client, a program managed by Launch NY.
The company is focused on exploiting these partnerships, as well as finding new ones, to continue research and development, including software simulation and testing of prototypes in wind tunnels.