Friday, November 21, 2008

The first eco-friendly billboard will be constructed in Times Square

CSE Article

A Times Square billboard goes green
The first eco-friendly billboard will be constructed in Times Square, entirely powered by wind and solar power.
-- Consulting-Specifying Engineer, 11/19/2008
According to the New York Times, the first eco-friendly billboard will be constructed in Times Square, entirely powered by wind and solar power. The $3 million Ricoh Americas billboard will be fitted with 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels. The 126 x 47 ft billboard on the Great White Way, weighs 35,000 lbs, rests 55 ft off the ground, and wraps around the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue and 42nd St. The billboard will generate its own electricity, which is enough to power six homes for a year, and the self-generated power will save as much as $12,000 to $15,000 per month in utility costs and prevent 18 tons of carbon from being released into the air. Lighted by 16, 300-watt floodlights, the billboard will feature a custom-printed opaque vinyl sheeting that bears the Ricoh logo.

The cylindrical Ricoh drum turbines have no sharp blades and will provide 90% of the sign’s power. The rest of the sign’s power will come from the solar panels, which feed electricity to eight collection batteries up in the sign. Unlike the tall propellers in a typical wind farm, the cylindrical Ricoh drum turbines have no sharp blades. Tourists, residents, and people passing by will be able to see the 26 blades spinning in the sign’s 16 turbines, piled in four 45-ft. tall vertical stacks. Operating at an average speed of 10 miles an hour, the turbines will generate 22 kW.

The only projected problem with the solar and wind powered billboard is what happens to the sign when there is no sun and no wind. Ricoh claims that the drums are so perfectly balanced, that their rotors could be turned by the wind from a single household electric fan. “The turbines would most likely generate enough power to keep the sign lighted even after four days without wind or sun. But the company is prepared for the sign to go dark” said Ron Potesky, a senior marketing vice president for Ricoh Americas Corp. Unlike stalklike propeller turbines, which require unidirectional, or “clean”, wind to function, Ricoh’s revolving drums use turbulent, multidirectional winds. The turbines provide usable power from winds as weak as 5 mph and rotate safely in winds up to 100 mph.
Photo Courtesy: Artist's rendering from the New York Times

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