DOE Backs MIT Spin-Out

Keystone Towers, managed in part by MIT’s Alex Slocum, is producing a method to help spread wind power

Vicki Ekstrom    ·    September 22, 2014    ·    MITEI

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) MIT spin-out Keystone Towers, along with an Iowa State innovation, $2 million on September 19th. Keystone Towers, managed in part by MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Alex Slocum, is working to advance technologies to harness stronger winds available at higher heights, potentially increasing the amount of clean, renewable electricity the nation produces. Specifically, the spin-out is developing an advanced manufacturing process for wind turbine towers that will significantly reduce the cost of towers, eliminate transportation constraints, and enable larger turbines with higher hub heights bringing low cost wind energy to many new regions.  Today, tower diameters are limited to 4.3m, the largest size that can be shipped by road or rail.  This constraint results in significant structural sub optimization, and prevents cost effective construction of towers over 100m tall. Keystone has solved this problem with tapered spiral welding, an automated fabrication process that can produce towers on-site. On-site production will allow Keystone to make taller, larger diameter, more structurally efficient towers, reducing steel use by over 100 tons per a tower, enabling larger energy capture and reducing the cost of wind energy by up to 10 percent.

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