Wind-Powered Air Compressor

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by bosco, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    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?:ear
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  2. gmiguy

    gmiguy You rode a what to where?

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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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  3. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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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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  4. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    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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  5. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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    Right air is just a simple compressible medium, electricity is a chemical storage cell.
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  6. xtop20A

    xtop20A Banned

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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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  7. gmiguy

    gmiguy You rode a what to where?

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    Right. You'd store the energy as compressed air, hence my statement:

    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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  8. R_W

    R_W wannabe

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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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  9. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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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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  10. P B G

    P B G Long timer

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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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  11. 2speed

    2speed Puching adventurer

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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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  12. R_W

    R_W wannabe

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    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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  13. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    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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  14. JDLuke

    JDLuke Ravening for delight

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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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  15. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    :scratch Isn't that the same as an airplane on a treadmill kind'a deal?
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  16. windmill guy

    windmill guy n00b

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    There is a company www.windcompressor.com that makes several different size windmill powered air compressors. The rotor drives a two stage compressor directly and has several built in safety features. Bought one last year and it has been working great so far.
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  17. arcanum

    arcanum Been here awhile

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    I am not sure why you want to pump water with air. The old style windmills they used around here converted wind energy to a piston action just like a hand pump.

    There is one way to pump great amounts of water from a drilled well with a pipe liner. I discovered it when trying to clean sand out of a well. My 75' deep well had sand in it 13' from the top, The traditional way to clean them up is to use a large construction [air hammer] air compressor and blow a large quantity of air in the casing the well erupts in a big gusher of air,water,and sediment that goes all over the place.

    Just on a whim,I tried a moderate sized 60 gallon 10 CFM compressor and dropped a weighted standard 3/8 air line into the casing . Slugs of water probably 2 gallons at a time came up and exited every 10 seconds or so. The injected air formed into big compressed bubbles of air and the water formed into 'chunks' and was ejected.

    I used a 4'' tee at the top of the well casing and made a crude trough of pipes to move the water away to prevent the ground from getting soggy. It moved a lot of water with very little horsepower and moved 40' of sand/silt as well, effectively clearing the well of sediment for zero cost.

    So if anyone ever need a lot of water in a hurry, and the water is not for drinking,this could work in an emergency
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  18. Firemanmike69

    Firemanmike69 Been here awhile

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    True that. I used to build oil trucks, I'm sure you know but anyone else care to venture a guess what pressure there rated for?








    3 PSI that's it's 3psi. I would never use something that wasn't designed as a pressure vessel as a pressure vessel
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  19. windmill guy

    windmill guy n00b

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    The only advantage to using an air powered windmill is that the air can be stored in a tank and used to pump water on non windy days. A lot of people also used the stored air to run pneumatic tools and motors. The old farmer piston types can only pump water on windy days.
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  20. windmill guy

    windmill guy n00b

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    If you are looking to make a home made inexpensive one that can get up to 30 PSI please let me know as I have made and tried several different methods over the years
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