Wind turbines of the future could dwarf the Empire State Building

Wind turbines
Bigger is better, even in the world of renewable energy. The latest example is a proposed mega-wind turbine being developed by a research team from several universities and national laboratories. The gargantuan turbine will rise nearly a third of a mile into the sky, will measure a quarter of a mile in diameter and will be equipped with two or three 656-foot blades that will span more than two football fields. “We call it the extreme scale,” said aerospace engineer and University of Virginia professor Eric Loth. “There’s nothing like it.”

The proposed turbine will be significantly larger than any existing wind turbines currently in operation. Most industrial turbines have blades under 200 feet — the largest blades measure a little over 270 feet. The massive turbine also will be exceptionally tall, climbing 1,574 feet upward and dwarfing the existing big turbines, which are just over 700 feet tall. When completed, the towering turbine will be higher than the Empire State Building. Given its blade size and reach, the turbine will be capable of producing a whopping 50 megawatts of energy. This energy output dwarfs existing on-shore, utility-scale turbines which produce between 1.5 and 3MW. Even the biggest off-shore turbines in use only generate up to 8MW.

Not only supersized,  the mega turbine also will feature cutting-edge blade technology that will allow its blades to adapt to prevailing wind conditions. The long blades, officially called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotors, will face downward and will be built in small segments (130-164 feet), making it easier to manufacture, transport and assemble them on site. They also will be adjustable, fanning out when wind conditions are optimal for energy generation. “Like a flower, the petals are spread out, and we reach out and grab as much wind as we can,” Loth said. The blades also will contract when wind conditions become potentially damaging.

Initial plans call for the off-shore installation of these big turbines to minimize the environmental impact of the supersized structure. “I really want to focus on going far enough offshore that we’re away from the migratory patterns of the birds,” Loth said. The team, comprised of researchers from the University of Virginia, University of Illinois, the University of Colorado, the Colorado School of Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory, is currently working on building a scale prototype, which they hope to test within three years at National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. Funding for the project ($3.5 million) is being provided by the U.S. Energy Department via its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program.

Cars

The Rev-1 delivery robot is fast enough to hit the bike lane

Tootling into view is yet another wheel-based delivery robot, this one from U.S. startup Refraction A.I. The Rev-1 is designed for last-mile deliveries and is said to be faster and cheaper than many of its rivals.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Hayabusa2 probe collects first-ever subsurface samples from an asteroid

It can be hard waiting for news from 200 million miles away, but on Wednesday, Japan's space agency said it believes its Hayabusa2 probe has collected the first subsurface materials from an asteroid.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

June may be ending, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling.   
Emerging Tech

Professional poker players no match for A.I. in six-player Texas Hold ’em

Poker AI Pluribus destroyed professional players in Texas Hold 'em. The bot won an average of $5 per hand with winnings of $1,000 per hour, with strategies that were very different to how humans played the game.
Emerging Tech

Russia launches X-ray observatory capable of locating thousands of black holes

Russia has finally launched its powerful X-ray observatory, Spektr-RG, after a delay caused by faulty batteries on board the spacecraft. The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 13, taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Emerging Tech

Stallone in Terminator 2? How one deepfake prankster is changing cinema history

Ever wanted to see The Shining with Jim Carrey instead of Jack Nicholson? How about Stallone in Terminator 2: Judgement Day instead of everyone's favorite governator? Thanks to deepfakes, it's now possible -- just ask YouTuber Ctrl Shift…
Emerging Tech

See a gargantuan dust storm covering the north pole of Mars

A dust storm around Mars' north pole has been imaged by the Mars Express orbiter. Localized dust storms are common on Mars, but occasionally one expands into a planet-wide event like the one which caused the demise of the Opportunity rover.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope captures the beautiful remnants of a dying star

The VLT has captured a beautiful cosmic object, the planetary nebula named Abell 24. Located in constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog), it is a swirl of dust and gas which is illuminated by the core of a dead star.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers have spotted a moon forming around a proto-Jupiter

Astronomers have spotted a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it which is similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is in the process of forming and is located 370 light-years away.
Emerging Tech

NASA thinks 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit will help Moon to Mars mission

NASA funded the demonstration by a small spacecraft named Archinaut One to manufacture and assemble parts while in space. NASA believes that the technology will change future space exploration, including its Moon to Mars initiative.
Emerging Tech

Flyboard Air soars over Paris during France’s national day celebrations

Franky Zapata, the inventor of the jet-powered Flyboard Air, showed off his machine during France's Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday. The impressive display was even given a nod of approval by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Deals

Save with Prime Day deals on DNA kits from Ancestry, 23andme, and Living DNA

Prime Day is a great time to order a DNA kit. Over the years, kits from various providers have been deeply discounted -- and this year's no exception. Kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA are on sale for as much as half off…
Emerging Tech

Airport hotel builds a full-sized flight simulator into one of its guest rooms

Aviation enthusiasts flying out of Tokyo's Haneda Airport, there's a new hotel room designed just for you. It features a full-sized Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, though you'll have to pay extra to use it.