Inflatable Futures

A recent patent application by Segway inventor Dean Kamen highlights American ingenuity. The device is an inflatable wind turbine, which appears to have originally been developed in Israel. Before you write it off, you should consider the current installation difficulties associated with conventional wind energy turbines. Wind velocity specifics are notoriously elusive. Ideally, you have exact location data running back several years before you put a turbine in place, because once it is located, it is not going anywhere. And there are a number of places where you would like to locate windmills, but rare storms mean you need to over design them for once every ten year storms or risk loosing the entire facility.

Enter the inflatable wind turbine. You put it in a location that you think might be good, but dont have great or any actual data for, it turns out to be a bust and you deflate it and put it back in the truck and move it elsewhere. Also when you see a hurricane coming, you deflate it until the storm passes and then pop it back up in that lovely windy place undamaged.

It is not clear from what i have read what the relationship is between the original Israeli inventor and Kamen. But what appears to be the key difference between the two designs is that Kamen’s has complex LED arrays included in it which will permit the turbine to act as a billboard as well as an energy source.

While i was researching this development i also found an article about inflatable steel. This relatively new technology has been in production since 2009, and inflatable stools are already being sold. They are shipped flat to their end destination and then inflated with a device no more complex than a bicycle pump. The stools are lighter and cheaper than conventional steel stools and have the same strength according to the article i read. The next stop is building materials which ship flat and then are inflated on-site.

We have seen the future and we want to blow it up.