Talk of energy in the future often revolves around one type of source like nuclear or natural gas, but in reality there will have to be multiple solutions with wind power being one of them.

“Many wind farms are not producing as much power as we would expect,” said John Schroeder, Texas Tech professor of atmospheric sciences. “With a better understanding of how turbines interact with each other, we may be able to make small adjustments that could be worth millions.”

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That is why a patent-pending concept developed at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute could make it happen for wind plants around the world.

Schroeder and research professors Brian Hirth and Jerry Guynes are the inventors on two filed U.S. patent applications for the optimization of wind plant performance through the use of radar technology and associated analysis techniques.

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In the move from academia to real world application, the university licensed out the patent rights to SmartWind Technologies LLC, a technology development and service company founded by Schroeder, Hirth and Guynes. The start-up specializes in providing products, software and knowledge to measure and analyze wind energy relevant complex flows.

“The idea is to take what we’ve been doing in the research realm and, through the company, provide a commercial vehicle to offer it to industry that can benefit from it,” Schroeder said.

The patents include the use of radar technologies and subsequent analysis concepts for wind energy applications. Using the enhanced information about flow conditions enables the researchers to develop proactive controls that can minimize turbine-to-turbine interaction and maximize power generation, Schroeder said.

“The wind research that was completed at the National Wind Institute created intellectual property that was licensed to a local start-up company,” said Russell Thomasson, associate vice president for research commercialization. “They are working with large, national wind generation companies to make wind energy more efficient for everyone.”

“It benefits wind energy, it benefits society and it benefits Texas Tech,” Schroeder said. “The endpoint of this research and commercialization process will have an impact well beyond the university.”

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