A Canadian startup has developed a small-scale, portable wind turbine that can be brought anywhere and be used to charge electronic devices off the grid.
Called the Shine Turbine Wind Charger, the 40-watt turbine works the same way as the massive wind turbines that dot the countryside. The difference comes down to the size and weight. According to Halifax-based company Aurea Technologies, its three-pound turbine is as lightweight as a small toaster and is small enough to fit in the side pocket of a hiking backpack.
It is equipped with three 23-inch-long collapsible blades, as well as a mount, pegs and reflective guy-wires stored inside it. When folded, the turbine looks like an elongated pigskin and measures nearly 14 inches long and almost four inches wide.
Before use, the mount should be removed from inside the turbine and stretched out to its full three-foot length. The turbine is then installed on the mount and stabilized using the other accessories. Once the blades start spinning, the five-voltage batteries inside the turbine begins charging. To charge electronics, a USB cord is connected into both the electronic device and the turbine.
Aurea told Clean Technica that the technology is perfect for individuals looking to charge their phone, electric stove, headlamp and other devices off-grid. The firm claims that its wind turbine can collect an amount of energy equivalent to three fully charged phones in as little as an hour. At that rate, the turbine generates electricity faster than any other portable device that harvests renewable energy, the company says. (Related: Some uncommon ways to generate electricity for your homestead.)
Creators of Shine say they were inspired to make a portable wind turbine because few people have direct access to wind power. "As a team of outdoor enthusiasts with backgrounds in science and engineering, we set out to create a wind power product that gives users the freedom to produce their own clean energy day or night, rain, cloud or shine," said Rachel Carr, Shine co-creator and Aurea's chief marketing officer.
The Shine wind turbine charger was launched online on Tuesday, June 8, and was priced $240 for early birds.
Other portable wind turbines hitting the market
A Danish startup has also developed its own portable wind turbine. Called the Wind Catcher, the collapsible turbine comes in different shapes and sizes, but the biggest one weighs 22 pounds and goes up to 13 feet high when assembled. This version generates up to 600 watts of electricity and costs around $1,046.
The Wind Catcher's size and weight make it unwieldy for backpackers traveling by foot, but the turbine may be suitable for those living off the grid. Copenhagen-based KiteX says that its turbine is transportable and can be assembled in as little as 15 minutes. By comparison, Aurea says its wind turbine charger can be assembled within two minutes.
KiteX also claims that the Wind Catcher only emits a soft sound even though the turbine blades are a bit big. And if the turbine is installed around 65 feet away from one's off-grid home, the firm says that the sounds emitted by the blades will not be audible. In addition, the turbine is compatible with a number of different portable generators, such as Goal Zero and Jackery.
Utah-based startup Halcium is also developing its own portable wind turbine. Called the Powerpod, the 1,000-watt turbine will resemble a dustbin in terms of form and size.
The firm considers it the world's "safest" portable turbine because its circular blades will be hidden inside a plastic enclosure. So instead of having a direct contact with the wind, the Powerpod will capture air and funnel it through a small airway. This will increase the wind speed before the air reaches the circular blade inside.
Because the machine itself increases wind speed, the firm says that the blades do not have to be installed on tall poles, as in the case of regular wind turbines.