The Homemade Windmills of Nebraska

home made windmills of nebraska

“The merit of homemade mills has enjoyed such prompt recognition that they are going up daily. Not to the detriment, we are happy to say, of those important adjuncts to the farm, the shopmade mills, but in addition to them.

In a given community, the man who puts up the first mill generally furnishes the model for the rest of the community. Hence it seems the more desirable that good models should be at hand, the better models are often of quite as easy constructed and no more expensive than the poorer, and their efficiency considerably greater.

It is advantageous to have good models to copy, and the next best thing to the actual model is a good simple drawing. This is the first object of this paper on our homemade windmills; it aims to supply cuts illustrating all sorts of windmills, as found in this State.”

The homemade windmills of Nebraska” (pdf), Erwin Hinckley Barbour, 1899. Illustration: a wind powered sawing machine.

Related: Windmills and wind motors – how to build and run them (1910), Building plans of Dutch Industrial windmills (1850).

Can Renewables Power Consumer Societies? The Negative Case

“Virtually all current discussion of climate change and energy problems proceeds on the assumption that technical solutions are possible within basically affluent-consumer societies. There is however a substantial case that this assumption is mistaken. This case derives from a consideration of the scale of the tasks and of the limits of non-carbon energy sources, focusing especially on the need for redundant capacity in winter. The first line of argument is to do with the extremely high capital cost of the supply system that would be required, and the second is to do with the problems set by the intermittency of renewable sources. It is concluded that the general climate change and energy problem cannot be solved without large scale reductions in rates of economic production and consumption, and therefore without transition to fundamentally different social structures and systems.”

Read more: “Can renewables solve the greenhouse problem? The negative case” (pdf), Ted Trainer, Energy Policy, March 2010. Also check out the author’s website, where you can find similar papers, like this one.

How to Rig a Windmill Sail

how to rig a windmill sail

Source: “Travailler au moulin / Werken met molens”, Jean Bruggeman, 1996.

Tree Windmill (1901)

windmill treeLast year, William Kamkwamba made headlines around the world with his crude windmills built out of tree trunks and scavenged materials.

He could have saved himself some work if he had seen the illustration on the right, which I copied from a 1901 Dutch newspaper. The accompanying text says:

“Windmills are ugly contraptions and many attempts have been made to make them look better. This illustration shows how nature and mechanics can coexist.”

“It is a windmill constructed in combination with two trees. The trees only serve as a support for the upper part and for the ladder to reach the top. The mill was built in Illinois (US) and worked so well that several have been constructed.”

I could not find any more information about it.

Small wind turbines put to the test (2)

The Oil Drum runs an extended and rewritten version of our 2009 article on small wind turbines – including additional tests results from the UK.

“Two real-world tests performed in the Netherlands and in the UK confirm our earlier analysis that small wind turbines are a fundamentally flawed technology. Their financial payback time is much longer than their life expectancy, and in urban areas, some poorly placed wind turbines will not even deliver as much energy as needed to operate them (let alone energy needed to produce them). Given their long payback period relative to their life expectancy, most small wind turbines are net energy consumers rather than net energy producers.”

Wind Powered Trikes

wind powered trike 1

Pterosail Trike Systems is sailing and cycling over 3,000 miles from coast to coast across the USA this summer. The Pterosail is a street-legal recumbent tricycle with sails. It can reach up to 40 mph in good winds. No wind? Pedal. See also, below: the Whike, a Dutch made sail assisted trike.

wind powered trike 2

Related: Guido Vigevano’s wind car / Sailing rockets / Kiteboating / Velomobiles.