Funding advances production of revolutionary single-blade turbine

A revolutionary single-blade wind turbine designed for domestic use by Dunedin’s Powerhouse Wind Limited will be developed for production and sale in partnership with Otago Polytechnic, thanks to a $368,000 grant from the Ministry of Science and Innovation’s Technology Transfer Voucher scheme.

Co-funded by the Ministry and investment being raised by Powerhouse Wind, the project will see Powerhouse Wind work with Otago Polytechnic to develop its innovative Thinair turbine from a promising field test prototype into a fully-developed product ready for market.

Traditional wind turbines are constructed with multiple blades attached to a fixed hub; Thinair’s patented single-blade teetering hub design allows the blade’s angle to change in response to variations in wind speed. As a result, it makes more efficient use of strong and gusty wind, is protected from damage in extreme wind and is considerably quieter than traditional turbines.
“Until recently, reliable turbines for small-scale wind power generation have not been available,” explains Powerhouse Wind Director, Bill Currie. “Household wind power generation has largely been limited to turbines built, installed, and maintained by enthusiasts. We have used our experience and expertise to develop a wind turbine purpose-built for use in a domestic environment, aimed at providing a customer experience similar to that offered by existing home appliances.”

Otago Polytechnic’s research and development centre, Innovation Workspace, will manage the project, which involves the review and further development of the turbine’s mechanical, electrical, electronic and software components. It will also work with Powerhouse Wind to establish and monitor test sites across New Zealand and help create commercial market opportunities.

“Powerhouse Wind has a long-standing relationship with Otago Polytechnic,” says Innovation Workspace Manager, Eva Gluyas. “Our track record is one of creating successful commercial solutions and we’re thrilled the company has chosen to work with us again. We have extensive project management and design capabilities, and a great development workshop facility. We also offer strong connections with the industrial and manufacturing sectors throughout Otago and New Zealand.”

Powerhouse Wind’s directors and partners believe this joint project is a great opportunity to create an expertise base. “While there will be many challenges, the combination of a startup company with prototyped technology, an academic institution with great expertise and development resources, and the very capable engineering suppliers in Dunedin and New Zealand, creates a vehicle that can make the remaining development to market for Thinair rapid and thorough,” says Bill Currie.

The Ministry of Science and Innovation’s Technology Transfer Voucher scheme is designed to create lasting partnerships between companies and research providers, and improve access to expertise and development resources for companies developing commercial technologies. Otago Polytechnic is one of the scheme’s 14 accredited research and development partners.