Harnessing the Power of Wind: Taking a Good Idea and Making it Better

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 02/06/2007 - 01:11.

doctor majid rashidi wind spire turbine generator cleveland state university fenn hokus pokus bernouli 

Lee Batdorff of the University Circle Blog sent me an amazing write-up on Dr. Majid Rashidi, a Mechanical Engineer at Cleveland State University, who has developed and engineered a “smart energy spire” that includes multiple, miniature turbines on each of its spires that can generate electrical power at very low wind speeds. The write up below indicates these "Bernoulli Principle"-based "smart energy spires" are not only an innovative idea, but they are going into production with Green Energy Technologies, which  projects sales of approximately $93 million by 2009, along with the creation of at least 77 jobs. Below are some related articles and links worth checking out - it seems the big money will be innovation with wind manufacturing at the personal and campus level... how big could this be for NEO?

Read an article on this technology in the Cleveland Plain Dealer here and consider the strong support Cleveland State University is showing for this project, wanting the first production spire to be on CSU campus. Green Energy Technologies says they have orders for five other spires already, so this seems for-real. Some other mentions are below. What do you think about this? 

Friday, 01 September 2006 A Wind System using the Bernoulli Principle



  Green Energy Technologies (GET), a company based in Akron, Ohio, USA, is introducing a unique wind system (with 1MW, 500kW, 100kw and custom rooftop models) called the SmartEnergy Spire, which creates a ‘wind tunnel’ effect forcing the wind around the Spire. Using the Bernoulli principle, the Spire design creates an efficiency of 1.676 two times the throughput over a traditional wind turbine using ambient wind.



Interview with GET CEO Mark Cironi on GCBL here

Cleveland State Press Release below.

Harnessing the Power of Wind: Taking a Good Idea and Making it Better

Landscapes dotted with individual windmills as well as massive wind farms are slowly becoming a reality in an economy burdened by its reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity and power. According to the American Wind Energy Association, “wind energy will generate over 24 billion kilowatt-hours in the U.S. in 2006, enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes”. Traditional wind turbines, however, have suffered from a reputation as being unsightly, harmful to wild life, and plagued by mechanical failures.

Dr. Majid Rashidi, a Mechanical Engineer at Cleveland State University who sees a strong future in wind power, thought we could do better. Working off of an 18th century theory called the Bernoulli Principle— that when any fluid goes around a structure, an increase in velocity occurs—Dr. Rashidi developed a “smart energy spire” that includes  multiple, miniature turbines on each of its spires that can generate electrical power at very low wind speeds, something which cannot be accomplished with standard large blade windmills (Figure 1). The multiple wind energy generation units installed along the surface of the tower creates a fail safe redundant system that allows electrical power to be generated even if individual units fail to operate.

Moreover, each of the miniature turbines uses gearless drives, an advancement that addresses not only a critical problem of traditional wind turbines and gear failure, but it also eliminates the possibility of electronic magnetic interference in the electrical power supply. The technology also addresses wind direction change by allowing the wind tower to rotate into the incoming direction of the wind, with production capacity rated at two times greater than a conventional wind turbine configuration because of the amplification caused by the spire systems innovative design. Finally, the materials used for the “smart energy
spire” addresses the manufacturing costs of such a tower by standardizing the manufacturing process in a “piece-by-piece” method, where each turn of the spire can be molded, with the ability for mass production and thus lower costs.

With this technology and innovation in hand, Cleveland State is working with Akron-based Green Energy Technologies to bring the smart energy spire to the marketplace as a unique system of towers and roof top units (because of the unique spiral design, the number of turns—and thus size—can easily be adjusted based on the needs of clients). These towers are expected to be very versatile, from spirals that provide electricity to the current power grid (as is being explored by First Energy Corporation) to spirals that include RF communications electronics in the same structure (for use by cellular phone communication companies) and spirals that provide electricity to large organizations (such as Cleveland State University).

By tapping into this market potential, Green Energy Technologies  projects sales of approximately $93 million by 2009, along with the creation of at least 77 jobs.

Cleveland State University researchers are always looking for ways to make life better in Northeast Ohio. Fortunately for the region, Dr. Majid Rashidi has aptly accomplished this task, providing not only new power sources, but also creating a new industry and new jobs.

For additional information please contact the CSU Technology Transfer Office at 216-687-9228



Wind Spire Crop.JPG44.54 KB

Bill McD posted on RN re: Cironi wind spiral a few weeks back

http://www.princeton.edu/~asmits/Bicycle_web/blunt.html  is a link which has some informative diagrams and wind tunnel photos showing the flow laminations of air past a cylinder and a sphere.   The "wind spire" is essentially a vertical cylinder.   Air directly downstream and for the full 180+ degrees (looking down from above) behind the vertical cylinder will be in stalled turbulence.  This is an issue with this design which I don't believe has been adequately addressed.  Please provide a diagram of the air flow behind the spire.  I noticed that in the wind flow diagram in the upper RH corner of the main display photo above,  there are no flow lines downstream of the tower.  That's a critical  omission - for the turbine blades to extract energy from the air the decellerated air downstream from the turbine blades must be flowing and flowing with minimal turbulence. ..


Thanks - so is this a good innovation?

Great Jeff - here is the URL with Bill's posting. So if we don't see the Wind Working Group helping this effort, is it because they have determined this is not a good innovation or that they are just so focused on their solution that they will not support others? This is a very ciritical issue to explore - if this is a good solution by a local inventor at CSU and entrepreneurial start-up in Ohio, in the right sector, and they can't get respect, we have serious problems here in NEO.

Disrupt IT

Wind Power Awarness In Cleveland...


I think that Dr. Rashidi's computer modeling photo

shows very much the same results as your Princeton drawings...

Just my opinion on this, but you might wish to contact Dr. Rashidi directly

for any further information on the technical side of this topic, as I doubt

Norm is in possession of the information that you are asking for.

Either way, it seems that there is an increase in interest in wind power in Cleveland,

which I think is a good thing. You might remember they make both Fords and

Chevy's in D-troit, even though the owners of those cars will swear that the

other manufacturer's product is a piece of fecal material.




Jeff, will you contact Dr. Rashidi?

It is very interesting to dig into wind technology and analyze what makes sense in and for NEO. Obviously, if a CSU prof. has invented a better windmill, and that innovation is based in the region, NEO wins at many levels. So, what is the market potential of this innovation? Jeff, why don't you touch base with Dr. Rashidi and give us your perspective on this technology.

Disrupt IT




the earnest commentary on Realneo is, of course, an open invitation to anyone and everyone to log in and kick my ideas in the head, or kick your ideas in the head,  or put their ideas up on RealNeo for a good natured public flogging.  The wider ranging the public dialogue,  the faster and finer the idea refinement will come – Keep in mind that Google searches - from anywhere in the world  - will pull up pertinent dialogue on Realneo, and maybe the person with the experience and knowledge to refine the idea is in Australia or where ever… Anyway, I couldn’t meet for a few weeks….


Dr. Rashidi, welcome aboard! 

We'll need to reach out...

I think it is worth contacting wind innovator Dr. Rashidi to dig in on this issue - perhaps he'll post, but we may have to do some heavy lifting. Has anyone followed up with him...? If not, I'll be glad to give him a call and discuss his technology and post what I learn (to the extent I can understand that).

Disrupt IT




I agree with you entirely.    If I was running the Cleveland Foundation, for the half million that was spent,  I would have funded about 50 test efforts like Mr. Cironi's and Dr. Rashiti's before I wasted a dime on the Sci Mus turbine.  So when someone comes along with an innovative idea, it is quite difficult for me to express skepticism about the design .  We want more envelope pushing in NEO, not less.  Certainly criticism isn’t helpful if the only result of the  criticism is to deaden someone’s unique efforts and hopes.    At the same time, standing by while having very pregnant questions about a hang-glider’s new flying machine - while the individual is on the edge of the mountain and preparing to go airborne - and not uttering those questions, doesn't seem to  me to be the right thing to do.  So I am speaking up…

As I trust everyone sees from my comments, they are sincere, and not confrontational nor insulting.  There are many ways to skin a cat (PETA - just an expression) and the wind spire is one such effort.  I am not committed to the now familiar 3 bladed , horizontal axis turbine design.  Frankly, I believe we will see the way of the typical 3 bladed turbine go by the by in the next 20 years to some other design.  The turbine science is far from mature.

I would love to see a wind spire built, and whether it turns out to be all it was hoped to be or not wouldn't really matter.  Just the BBBUZZZZZ that came out of it for Cleveland would be worth the effort.   But projecting gross sales and 77 jobs before a working prototype has confirmed - what is now theory - is a bit premature.  That type of over confident success projection can smack of charlatanism and,  if the design doesn’t pan out,  sets Cleveland up for more “burning river” gab.   What we can and should project is that NEO is open to new, edgy ideas, that they will be sincerely critiqued,   that the project will be observed with the same type of respect to which both the winner - and the loser - in the track meet are entitled, and then given a friendly – but not cocky - bon voyage.  

My attitude is go in as smart as you can, build it, and whether it blows up, comes apart, or establishes new energy conversion records, it will be “One down, 49 more to go” – let’s have the next design lined up for its beta flight!    We need to have a "test bench" land area for just these efforts in urban Cleveland (NREL at Rocky Mountain Flats is too far away and too "official") - with an open door and a little cash handy to help with materials, stipend, etc. Then the world would start checking us out with a working urban turbine museum, “new car lot” for turbines, and test bench facility.





We have no idea what the so called Cleveland Wind Working Group does, thinks, or plans, do we?  Do they have a web site where they put up research results, thoughts, and anemometer readings?  There’s nothing on the Cleveland Foundation web site. What’s going on on the 39th floor of Key? What’s GE got up their sleeve.  Is this a public process?  Meeting minutes? “about 10 turbines 3 miles out from Cleveland in Lake Erie”  that’s their only press release as far as I know.  What are their public goals, what are their private goals?


With regard to the "wind spire":  For under $10K a "wind spire" test prototype can be built using  two of the Whisper turbines (I blogged here http://realneo.us/blog/jeff-buster/wind-turbines-sold-in-big-box-stores  last summer about Whisper - the smaller output units are $1k each, and the larger output units are $3k each).  Buy 2 small ones.   Bend 2 hoops (from wood strapping screwed together in a 20' – or whatever diameter - circle)  stretch -on a back and forth bias (like the old bias ply tire cores were made) - white shrink wrap  (used to winterize boats in storage )  over the wood frames making a sort of concave exterior walled toroid.  Cover the open toroid ends with plywood or shrink wrap.  Stick it up on a flat roof.   Buy a data logger, a few cheap anemometers, and the requisite KWH and other output sensors.  Stick one Whisper unit on the side of the concave toriod, and put the other (control) somewhere else (similarly wind flow situated) on the roof with comparable anemometers, etc.  Let’s see what develops on the KWH meters.

The other aspects of the spire design  I  don't understand  are:  1. why the  unit is  helical instead of stacked concave donuts  -  which would be simpler to manufacture and erect than working with the thread shaped helix.  2. how the small turbines orient/azimuth  to the prevailing/changing wind direction. 


I am also concerned, (even if there is the suggested usable wind acceleration around the perimeter of the structure), that  the cost – and complexity of the numerous small turbines - of the fixed structure will be greater than the cost of installing more/larger turbines to gain the same energy output.  


 I do compliment Mr. Cironi for his very polished computer generated presentation materials, and for his marketing acumen.


From my interpretation of what I heard  Mr. Stuebi say in public in January at Levin with Mr. Richard, CF has reviewed and passed on this design – no funding there.  How about GEO?  Any interest?  Fletcher, Steve, AAron, please fill us in. 

Dr. Rashidi - CSU "wind spiral" patent

This is the patent application for the "wind spiral".  I believe you need to upload some quicktime software from the Patent Office in order to view any patent drawings.  I have the software on another computer and don't have time to do it now.  Check it out!  I think the web services of the US Patent Office are well organized and very usefull.  It is interesting to read some patents with their very novel ideas.