SBIR Phase I: Capacitive Machines for Direct Drive Wind Turbines

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

C-Motive Technologies Inc.
2410 Daniels St. Ste. K
Madison, WI 53718
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project investigates the merit of a novel capacitive generator design for use in the wind energy sector. The general design utilizes electric fields to exert forces on mechanical systems, a concept that is routine on the Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) scale but is nonexistent at the macro scale common to most industrial power applications. The technology is synthesized from a multidisciplinary approach of electrical, mechanical and chemical components which provides a novel approach for wind turbines, electric motors, and generators, yet which is theoretically capable of higher sheer stress and lower power loss than any currently available machine. In this project, these various components and the resulting machine will be prototyped, tested, and evaluated against competing, current state-of-the-art wind turbine generator technology. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to decrease the levelized cost of energy for wind power generation compared to fossil fuels and current methods of wind power generation, while simultaneously enabling a suite of fundamentally new types of motors, generators and actuators for use in global industry. Commercially, the technology resulting from this project will offer a lower cost of torque in a smaller and lighter unit than competing technologies by leveraging electrostatic versus electromagnetic forces. Furthermore, the inherent high torque capability increases system reliability by eliminating gearboxes and their maintenance. Wind energy is a large, global, and high-growth industry, particularly in the ?large wind? market segment (>100 kW). Under the increasing pressures of climatic change, demand for and investment in renewable energies such as wind will continue to increase. Additionally, wind power is most commonly farmed in rural areas; therefore it offers new revenue streams for rural populations and increased investment in rural areas while minimizing detrimental ecological impacts. From a technical perspective, the proposed capacitive machinery is naturally high-torque and low-speed, making it ideal for direct drive applications outside of wind as well, namely as a prime mover for large pumping, drilling, or mining installations.