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Old 07-13-2010, 04:27 AM   #1
bosco OP
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Wind-Powered Air Compressor

It's a fantasy of mine. I know down in Oz they have wind-powered air compressors for pumping water.

Anyone know anything about setting up a wind-powered air compressor?
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:31 AM   #2
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I'd be inclined to go with an off-the-shelf wind-powered electric generator running an off-the-shelf electric compressor with a big and well-sealed tank.

This way you can switch to mains power and still run the compressor on a calm day.

Doing a direct-drive would be tricky, as you'd have to make sure that both your turbine and your air pump were operating in the correct speed range under all wind conditions. Also, it's going to be a PITA when you want air but can't get it because the wind has died down.

Honestly, I expect that on a homeowner scale this will probe to be less cost-efficient than just running an electric compressor the normal way.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:41 AM   #3
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Actually.

I've thought about the same thing, but for a different reason.

Around the midwestern states they have a whole shit load of those wind turbines for electricity generation.

And on off peak hours a good number of these turbines will be shut down. As ususal with our grid it doesn't "store" energy it just only makes what it needs.

But what if they could use the turbine to do something else? like pressurize large air storage tanks and possibly even use that air to turn the generator in low wind conditions etc?

The only thing that really kills my idea, is as I understand it the typical air motors are rather low efficiency. But many air motors run backwards are compressors, or rather just the one way valves flipped routing become compressors, so it could be one motor/compressor unit.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmiguy
I'd be inclined to go with an off-the-shelf wind-powered electric generator running an off-the-shelf electric compressor with a big and well-sealed tank.

This way you can switch to mains power and still run the compressor on a calm day.

Doing a direct-drive would be tricky, as you'd have to make sure that both your turbine and your air pump were operating in the correct speed range under all wind conditions. Also, it's going to be a PITA when you want air but can't get it because the wind has died down.

Honestly, I expect that on a homeowner scale this will probe to be less cost-efficient than just running an electric compressor the normal way.


If I recall correctly the reason Austrailians use air to pump water is that it's easy to store air, but you're more limited w/ electricity.

My current thought is 1,000 gal propane tank plumbed into wind-generated compressed air w/ a small electric back-up.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:49 AM   #5
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Right air is just a simple compressible medium, electricity is a chemical storage cell.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:55 AM   #6
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i had this idea 30 years ago when i lived in the very windy orland calif.to use huge propane tank and store air.it was my thought to use it for shop air.run all airtools...
it is being looked into now by major interests to store power in air.air powered cars are a reality as well
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Old 07-13-2010, 07:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bosco
If I recall correctly the reason Austrailians use air to pump water is that it's easy to store air, but you're more limited w/ electricity.

My current thought is 1,000 gal propane tank plumbed into wind-generated compressed air w/ a small electric back-up.
Right. You'd store the energy as compressed air, hence my statement:

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmiguy
I'd be inclined to go with an off-the-shelf wind-powered electric generator running an off-the-shelf electric compressor with a big and well-sealed tank.
My point was that I'd pursue this using electricity as an intermediate step to get the energy from the wind to the air in the tank.

Wind----->Electricity----->Compressed air
rather than
Wind----->Compressed air

Think about it, diesel locomotives don't use the diesel engines to drive the wheels directly. The engine spins a generator which then drives electric motors to spin the wheels. Same idea.

Yes, this is theoretically less efficient since you will lose energy making the transformation to and from electricity. I suspect the additional flexibility and control will be more than worth it; plus you can use existing off-the-shelf parts rather than reinventing the wheel.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:00 AM   #8
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Pond aeration windmills do that today, but at low pressure.

The wind turns the crank that moves a small air spring bladder. A couple check valves and there you go.
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Old 07-14-2010, 05:02 AM   #9
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What got me started on this idea is that I have a windmill in my yard, an old 30' AeroMotor, and I have a couple old compressors out in the shop.

Surely there's a way to combine the two instead of shelling-out $600(+) for a new compressor?
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Old 07-14-2010, 05:08 AM   #10
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sure, belt pulleys, some hose, a check valve, a tank.

But really what it needs is a very low volume pump so that thing can spin fast and get to higher pressures slowly.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:32 AM   #11
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Some Amish(no elec) use a jackhammer compressor and pump up a 10,000 gallon oil tank buried in the ground. Run air tools all day long. The buried tank won't explode because the dirt helps hold it together. Seems a little involved to get around the no "modern" electricity thing.

If your windmill pumped water, it should be difficult to fab up something to run a SMALL air compressor head. Direct drive it, just be sure to have some relief valves somewhere in the system.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bosco
What got me started on this idea is that I have a windmill in my yard, an old 30' AeroMotor, and I have a couple old compressors out in the shop.

Surely there's a way to combine the two instead of shelling-out $600(+) for a new compressor?
Do you still have a working gearbox on top?

Do you know the stroke? Most of them were LONG

You can use two check valves and an airspring with enough travel and PSI(or a lever rig to convert travel to more power). $100 if you buy it new.

EDIT TO ADD: It would be best to set up two in a push-pull setup to take advantage of both sides of the stroke.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_W
Do you still have a working gearbox on top?

Do you know the stroke? Most of them were LONG

You can use two check valves and an airspring with enough travel and PSI(or a lever rig to convert travel to more power). $100 if you buy it new.

EDIT TO ADD: It would be best to set up two in a push-pull setup to take advantage of both sides of the stroke.

It's a fairly short stroke, 6-8". My 1st thought was to use one of our old pump jacks that we used when the wind died. They have two large pullies that hook to the drive-shaft on a Briggs & Scrapiron 5hp motor. Maybe put the compressor where the gas engine used to go?

I'll have to get some pictures.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:44 AM   #14
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The nice thing about one of these setups is that you can shoot a jet of air from the tank to keep the windmill spinning for full-time power generation.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:54 AM   #15
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The nice thing about one of these setups is that you can shoot a jet of air from the tank to keep the windmill spinning for full-time power generation.

Isn't that the same as an airplane on a treadmill kind'a deal?
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