While windmill technology is appropriate for generating clean and renewable energy, its practicability is limited by seasonal nature of the power generating because of fluctuations in wind (Kumar & John, 2012). Windmills are installed in specific places. The output of the turbine in the windmill is dependent on the availability of wind to turn the turbine (Kumar & John, 2012). In addition, there is need for more renewable sources of energy to avoid the depletion of the fossil fuels. In another viewpoint, cleaner sources of energy are in keeping with the resolve to reverse the effects of global warming. Generating electricity by harnessing the motion of a train satisfies these needs.
The objective behind the idea is to generate electricity that can be used to power the functions of a train and stored for other purposes
The need for cleaner and renewable sources of energy has resulted in innovative ideas through which energy can be generated without relying on the dwindling fossil fuels. Wind energy has received a lot of attention because among other reasons, it is a renewable energy source, it is free of pollutants, its energy conversion system does not require fuel, and that transportation facilities are not required (Sivanagaraju, Reddy & Srilatha, 2010). However, one of the noted impediments in generating electricity using wind energy has been the fluctuation of the wind (Sivanagaraju, Reddy & Srilatha, 2010). Harnessing wind energy to generate electricity is also influenced by disadvantages such as the need for high towers for the power conversion system.
Different scholars have proposed innovative approaches to circumventing the constraints associated with harnessing wind energy to generate electricity. Bharathi, Balaji & Kumar (n.d) explore the idea of generating electricity by harnessing the high wind pressure that fast moving vehicles create. The operational modality behind this idea was directing the high wind pressure through a turbine. The turbine is fitted in an appropriate location in the vehicle. The turbine then converts the kinetic energy in the fast moving wind into mechanical energy. The turbine then turns a generator which the converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy (Bharathi, Balaji & Kumar, n.d).
This idea was also explored by Kumar & Sharma (2013). Their idea is more refined as it provides solutions to some of the challenges facing the idea. While the generation of electricity entails converting wind energy (kinetic) into mechanical energy through the turning of a turbine and further into electrical energy through a generator, their idea also considers the drag that might result from harnessing the wind. Kumar & Sharma (2013) recommend a ventilated casing on the turbine to reduce the surface area that is unnecessarily exposed to the air to reduce the drag. The blade that is acted upon by the moving wind to turn the turbine is fitted using mechanical supports on the train’s roof.
Marketing (or User) Requirement
The product which results from the idea is the installation of an energy conversion system that harnesses the kinetic energy in moving wind through the rotary blades and converts it into mechanical energy through the turning of a turbine and to electrical energy generated by a generator.
The targeted customers are companies and authorities running train services. This is because the energy conversion system is to be fitted into trains, more preferably, fast moving trains. This is because the higher the speed of the train the more wind it displaces and hence more wind pressure. Additionally, the roof of trains is appropriate for fitting the rotary blades that harness the kinetic energy in the wind to turn the turbine.
Since this is a relatively new idea, the ability of the train to produce energy using fossil fuel competes with this idea and the resultant products. Some trains are also run using electricity from other sources, such as hydroelectric power. However, the companies and authorities that operate trains are likely to invest in this product because it helps cut the costs in terms of fossil fuels such as diesel. Since the power generated complements the power needs for the train, there is less reliance on diesel power, hence saving costs.
Description of the Proposed Approach
There is a choice to be made between a vertical axis turbine and a horizontal axis turbine. The desired choice is the use of a vertical axis wind turbine (Kumar & Sharma, 2013). Some of the advantages include the fact that the generator that produces electric power and the gear box can be installed near the ground so as not to affect the center of mass of the train. Additionally, the turbine used in this configuration need be fitted to point into the direction of the wind (Kumar & Sharma, 2013). The energy conversion system including a turbine, generator and blades will be fitted appropriated on a train. The fitting of the turbine will be done in consideration of the movement of the wind when the train is in motion. This is in order to get the rotational movement in the blades which will in turn rotate the turbine.
Bharathi, S., Balaji,G., and Kumar, M. (n.d). A Method for Generating Electricity by Fast
Kumar D. and John, A. (2012). Power generation from the motion of a train. Verlag. LAP Lambert Academic Publishing.
Kumar, N. and Sharma, V. (2013). Production of electricity by using turbine mounted on train. International Journal of Conceptions on Electrical and Electronics Engineering, 1(2): 32-35.
Moving Vehicles. Retrieved from http://www.ijcns.com/pdf/8.pdf
Sivanagaraju, S., Reddy, M. B., & Srilatha, D. (2010). Generation and utilization of electrical energy. Noida, India: Pearson.