Scott Apthorp, who counts himself as a critic of conventional windmill design, has been working for more than a decade to come up with a better way. Finally, the North East Township man has something to show for it — an official U.S. patent on his invention.
The winds that blow off Lake Erie convinced Apthorp years ago of the value of capturing the wind’s energy.
But he thought the most common method was flawed.
A given footprint could only support one windmill. And what’s more, normal windmill designs shared a common flaw — they had a nasty habit of blowing apart in sudden gusts of wind.
The Apthorp Windmill, which sits on its side, the blade spinning parallel to the ground, moves the torque to the outside of the blades. He said that produces higher voltage and eliminates much of the risk posed by heavy gusts of wind.
Apthorp sees another advantage. Instead of placing just one windmill on a given piece of ground, his windmills can be stacked up, providing more power and blighting less of the landscape.
Apthorp, who works as an information technology consultant, said he spent more than $15,000, much of it coming from family and friends, to secure a patent for his invention.
But he might not be done.
The next challenge, which should proceed more quickly, is to win an international patent that would allow his invention to be built anywhere in the world.
Apthorp likes the idea of a local company taking on his project.
“There is a lot to be said for keeping it local and building our economy,” he said.
In the end, though, Apthorp said he favors whatever approach can help his invention climb a hurdle that’s even taller than winning a patent: He wants to see his invention become a marketplace reality.
Apthorp said he continue to look for investors.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org