Wind power in the housewares dept?

Photo: John Lok, Seattle Times

Chad Maqlaque wants to make buying wind power as easy as driving to the mall. The West Seattle inventor is just another savvy American making wind power in his garage, but his design, currently in the running to win a $10 million prize from a Google contest, could accelerate the green energy revolution. Thomas Key, tech lead for the Electric Power Research Institute renewables program called Maqlaque’s wind turbine and generator “elegantly simple”. If he wins the Google prize and/or attracts other investors, after development he plans to sell his invention at “big box” stores like CostCo, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, and Wal-mart for $400-500. One device will generate enough electricity (40 hw hours) to cover your light bill every month if you use compact-fluorescent bulbs. The blades spin at half-speed of a conventional turbines–meaning half the noise pollution and possible usage in close-packed urban environments.

from the Seattle Times:

Seattle inventor hopes Google contest will help rooftop wind turbine fly

A West Seattle man hopes his wind turbine will receive worldwide support from Google users.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Maglaque, 42, an inventor since childhood, does freelance product management and strategy for technology companies. He was a vocal supporter of the failed Seattle Monorail Project a few years ago.

He’s entered his wind-turbine idea in Google’s “Project 10 to the 100th” contest, which, to celebrate the company’s 10th birthday, will award $10 million to five innovative ideas that seek, in simple terms, to change the world.

“We thought this would be an interesting way to celebrate, and it goes with the Googley culture,” said company spokesman Jamie Yood. “Google is very much about democratizing the world. You might have this great idea but no way to share it.”

Google employees worldwide are wading through more than 100,000 entries submitted in 25 different languages. They’re narrowing the field to 100 entries, and starting Tuesday the public can vote to name the top 20. A Google advisory panel will pick the five winning projects.

Contestants could submit a short YouTube video explaining their ideas in categories such as energy, education and health. Maglaque’s video is one of the most viewed among all of the projects.

He calls his idea a simple one that combines several everyday parts into a wind-power generator. The 3-foot turbine would be mounted on a rooftop or wind tower and plugged directly into an outdoor electrical socket.

The turbine’s variable-speed motor — similar to those found in a blender or ceiling fan — is then connected directly to the electrical grid.

The turbine is equipped with a device that senses when there is enough wind to operate. That automatically turns the motor on, allowing the wind-driven turbine to generate electricity to be used in the home or fed back to the grid.

A handful of small wind turbines already have been developed, but they require an expensive converter to take variable wind energy and turn it into a uniform current appropriate for the grid.

Maglaque says his design doesn’t need a converter and can be plugged directly into the grid. He hopes his prototype, called the Jellyfish wind turbine, will be easy for homeowners to use.

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