VC Resonant Venture Partners, Ann Arbor, MI, says it has invested an undisclosed amount in Accio Energy, a startup developing a new way to generate electricity from wind. The company is developing what it calls “aerovoltaic” wind technology, supposedly a more cost-effective alternative to traditional turbines with rotors. CEO Jennifer Baird is the co-founder of Accuri Cytometers, which recently agreed to be acquired by Becton, Dickinson, & Co.
In conventional utilities, electricity from wind-driven turbines reaches grids through miles of transmission lines. However, this kind of wind power faces a long period of regulatory scrutiny before the state approves a project because of possible community and environmental concerns. Building large wind towers, turbines, and transmission lines also requires huge construction and maintenance costs. Even with millions of dollars of state subsidies, it often takes at least a decade before investors can recoup their costs and earn a profit.
Accio’s technology uses no turbines. Instead, a smaller “electrokinetic” devices create electricity by using wind molecules to push positively charged ions against the force of an electrostatic field, according to documents filed with the U.S. Trademark & Patent Office. The company says it can distribute the electricity directly to the grid or store it locally in a battery for energy on demand.
Resonant’s Twitter feed claims, “Accio Energy will disrupt the entire wind energy supply chain cost structure with distinctive systems that are as silent, stationary, as modular as solar panels, and orders of magnitude more cost effective than wind turbines.”
In theory, according to Accio’s patent filing, its wind generation devices can run continuously in wind speeds up to 120 mph, generating about 24 kW/m2. By contrast, larger turbines can sustain damage once winds exceed 60 mph. The patent filing, however, does not say where the company will find 120 mph winds.
Accio has won funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the R&D arm of the Defense Department. Under its DARPA contract, the company is developing portable wind power devices for military use.
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