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The Next Generation of Wind Turbines
The Amplified Wind Solutions team.
- Wind amplification system produces up to six times more electricity than traditional turbines.
- Technology emerged as most promising innovation from 2013 Ohio Clean Energy Challenge.
- AWS has enrolled in NorTech's STMA program to accelerate its commercialization efforts.
NorTech advanced energy cluster member Amplified Wind Solutions has developed a wind amplification system unlike anything that currently exists in the market. The cutting-edge technology produces up to six times more electricity than traditional wind turbines by directing a higher concentration of air molecules into the system, which increases the velocity and density of the wind stream.
"Our Wind Amplification System directly addresses some of the biggest issues with wind technology today," AWS CEO Niki Zmij says. "It is low cost, it uses less space, and because it can operate in low wind speeds, it can make wind power economically viable in previously non-viable locations."
The system was developed by Dr. Majid Rashidi, chair of the Engineering Technology Department at Cleveland State University. He co-founded AWS with Zmij, an MBA candidate at CSU's Monte Ahuja College of Business; Terry Thiele, director of sustainable product strategies at Lubrizol; and Jon Stehura, finance manager at Laird Technologies.
To meet the energy challenge we face today, and to compete, augment and substantially substitute the fossil-fuels that have been our primary energy source for nearly two centuries," Dr. Rashidi says, "every aspect of clean and renewable energy must be explored and researched, with the goal of developing safe and economically viable new energy producing technologies."
An earlier prototype of the system was mounted on the roof of Progressive Field in Cleveland. While a newer version of the turbines could be installed on various structures, Zmij envisions them on top of cell phone towers in remote and urban locations. They could replace diesel generators, which are commonly used for back-up power in on-grid locations and for primary power in off-grid locations.
"We're initially targeting the telecommunications industry because it has a need for alternative power solutions," Zmij says. "Cell towers significantly contribute to operating costs and CO2 emissions, and power supply is a key issue for network expansion and in the event of power outages."
The potential market for the AWS technology is enormous. More than 3.7 million cell towers are scattered across the world and the number is rising. The combination of an affordable, efficient technology with a large market opportunity impressed a judging panel of industry experts and investment professionals at the 2013 Ohio Clean Energy Challenge in Columbus, where AWS emerged as the winner among 12 student teams from universities across the state.
The event, hosted by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio (UCEAO) and NorTech, is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, designed to create a network of student-focused clean energy business competitions.
As winner of the Ohio challenge, AWS received $10,000 and a spot in the Midwest regional competition hosted by the Clean Energy Trust in Chicago in April, where Zmij was recognized with the "Breaking Barriers in Clean Tech" award for being an outstanding female entrepreneur. Since then, she has been focused on finishing her MBA at Cleveland State.
At the same time she continues to push forward with fundraising, building a third-generation prototype, and engaging potential customers. To accelerate the process, AWS has enrolled in NorTech's Speed-to-Market Accelerator program and received training in assessing market opportunities and customer expectations.
Zmij says she is inspired by the support she has received from NorTech and others in the region.
"Northeast Ohio has an amazing entrepreneurial network of people and organizations that are willing to roll up their sleeves and really dig in to help new companies get going," she says. "If you've never done it before, starting a business is a daunting task with a mysterious process. These people and organizations can help you discover a roadmap that makes sense for your company and demystify what lies ahead. For us, this support has been essential to our development."