Apple files wind energy storage patent

According to reports, California-based computing technology giant Apple Inc. has filed patents that involve a kind of on-demand wind energy storage system.

The well-known maker of laptops, tablets and smart phones could be looking for ways to power its data centers with renewable energy, as its competitor Google has done by striking power purchase agreements with utilities that generate renewable energy and by providing financial backing to wind farms.

According to the description of the technology filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a standard wind turbine would rotate a shaft that turns a device with several paddles immersed in a fluid. Then an adjustable heat exchanger would heat the liquid in a boiler, thus providing power to a steam turbine.

"Once sufficient heat is transferred to working fluid, the heat may be used to generate electricity. In particular, the heat may boil working fluid (e.g., due to the low boiling point of working fluid), generating vapor that is used to rotate a turbine. Turbine may then be used to drive an electric generator that supplies electricity to a load, such as a motor vehicle, home, business, building, and/or electrical grid. Transfer of heat from low-heat-capacity fluid to working fluid, as well as the resulting generation of electricity from the transferred heat, may be ceased once the energy stored in low-heat-capacity fluid is no longer needed to meet electrical de,and," according to the filing.

According to reports, the application was filed in June 2011. Pairing wind energy with energy storage, in theory at least, could address wind energy's intermittency problem.

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