EiP Press Launch in Newport, OR
September 1, 2014
BY ABBIE TUMBLESON
Of the News-Times
YACHATS — New ideas are sometimes things that remain only in our dreams. That’s not the case for Steve Burkle. Burkle took an idea and turned it into reality.
Now, five years down the road, he is still working to fine tune his idea-turned-invention. Burkle, of Yachats, has invented a new wind machine that can generate and store power as renewable energy, as well as stand up to the harsh coastal environment and high winds present on the central Oregon coast. His idea was for a more low-profile wind machine.
Burkle’s invention doesn’t need a tower or a large rotor and blades, like what is typically found on the towering wind turbines often found standing together on wind farms around the world. Instead, the machine, which can produce anywhere from five to 25 kilowatts of power, is about 8 feet in diameter and 6 feet high. It’s made of painted aluminum and sits on a three-foot platform. Burkle calls his new invention the EiP wind machine. EiP stands for electronic inertial power and also serves as part of the name of his business, EiP Technologies, Inc., which Burkle runs with his brother, Brad.
Renewable energy isn’t something new for Burkle. He has been living off the grid for almost 25 years and has long been interested in electronics, computers and technology. He is also deeply interested in nature and the outdoors. He was a certified electronics technician right out of high school and studied electrical engineering at Western Washington University, where he made alternative energy his focus. He later attended Oregon State University.
After college, Burkle worked at Intel in Hillsboro. “That’s where I really learned about engineering,” he said. But even while working in the growing technology industry, Burkle still had a vision of living in the woods — off the grid while still enjoying technology in a sustainable way, as he put it. When he met his wife, Burkle designed an energy system built on solar energy for their home outside of Yachats.
Five years ago, he was able to take a break from working full time to devote most of his time to developing and researching his product. Burkle started designing his prototype in 2009. “But I first imagined the idea in 1993,” he said. “I shelved that idea away for almost 20 years. No one else had come up with the technology yet by 2009.”
The EiP wind machine has a fixed structure on the outside and a rotating rotor on the inside. He described it as a magnetic synchronous machine, which he says has never been done before. “I can control the machine using its own electrical emanations,” he said. “It is the first vertical access machine with nothing in the middle.” EiP Technologies, Inc. describes the wind machine as being able to generate high power at low speed. Magnets in the design help keep the internal rotor spinning. And the internal rotor spins much slower than vertical wind machines, which Burkle says allows it to be safe and quiet and perform well in turbulent winds, allowing it to be placed on urban rooftops.
The machine has also been designed with a large rotating mass for power storage and the ability to be used in combination with other renewable energy sources, like solar. In the future, Burkle even envisions linking multiple machines together for power sharing.
EiP Technologies, Inc. met with people interested in the new wind machine and local business owners at Newport City Hall last month to share the product with the public. EiP Technologies, Inc. is headquartered out of Yachats, and Burkle is setting up a test site for his prototype at the business along East Third Street. The prototype, which is mounted on the back of an electric powered golf cart for easy mobility, will be placed on a concrete platform outside the business.
Burkle has also been collaborating with Yachats Farm Store and Yachats Brewing owner Nathan Bernard and brewer David Bench. The Yachats Farm Store and Yachats Brewing are located in a shared building along Highway 101 — a convenient spot right down the hill from Burkle’s business.
Bernard hopes to have a 10-barrel brew house open by year’s end, where he would use a full-size version of the wind machine as a power source. Bernard also owns and operates Perpetua Design & Build, Inc. with his wife, Cicely, in addition to the farm store and brewery.
“I’ve been in design-build construction for almost 20 years,” he said. And while there’s really no way to run on 100 percent renewable energy, Bernard hopes to work a major part of renewable energy sources into his new brewery. “We have the potential to contribute significantly through a renewable source,” he said. Bernard’s big picture plans include building a precedent-setting brewery operating on renewable generation sources.
“We are creating a living laboratory,” Burkle said. “We will be developing the tools and techniques toward reaching this goal.” A year ago, Bernard made a trip out to Burkle’s off-the-grid residence with a trailer to haul the prototype to EiP Technologies, Inc. But the wind machine remained under wraps until Burkle was able to secure all of the necessary patents needed in July. With that step completed, he has been progressing with his business, data collecting and seeking out prospective clients for the full-size machines.
“The power it can produce is still somewhat unknown,” Burkle said. He will be able to collect general data with the prototype, which he says will give him a much better idea of the power-producing potential of his new wind machine.