The wind power business, dominated by international conglomerates deploying mature technology, is a tough nut to crack.
A small Massachusetts-based start-up, FloDesign Wind Turbine, this week won two clean-energy competitions with a "shrouded turbine" design that it says can generate three to four times more electricity than today's hulking wind turbines.
The company has gotten attention from Al Gore in his role as partner at venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, according to news Web site Xconomy which cited an unnamed source.
FloDesign Wind Turbine CEO Stan Kowalski III, who is traveling in California, was not immediately available to comment on Thursday.
FloDesign Wind Turbine's design draws on its jet engine expertise from parent company, aerospace engineering firm FloDesign.
In a video (embedded below), the company describes its turbine design, which takes a radically different approach than the rotor-based wind turbines that dominate the market now.
FloDesign Wind Turbine's design resemble a jet engine, an approach that allows it to capture much more wind energy while taking up less space than traditional turbines.
When wind hits a turbine, it's constructed so that different air flows create a rapid-mixing vortex. A fin directs it to face the direction of the wind to maximize the amount of energy it receives.
The company said its machines can be used for utility-scale wind farms or corporate customers.
On Monday, the company won a prize valued at more than $100,000 in cash and services from the MIT Enterprise Forum Ignite Clean Energy competition. On Tuesday, it won the MIT Clean Energy Entrepreneurship Prize competition, which had a top prize of $200,000.