Wind Technology Firm Rallies to Provide Urgently Needed PPE
eWind Rallies to Provide Urgently Needed PPE
Innovation is second nature to Beaverton entrepreneurs Katie and David Schaefer, the owners of eWind portable airborne wind technology, a company in the metro area’s Green Cities cluster. So when they learned about the urgent demand by healthcare workers for personal protection equipment (PPE), they quickly retooled part of their operations to manufacture face shields.
“Two and a half months ago, eye surgeons at Oregon Health & Science University’s VA hospital put out a call for PPE supplies,” said Katie Schaefer. “I figured we could come up with something.”
She said Chemwest had some polycarbonate sitting around their warehouse, enough to make 500 face shield frames. Riddle Press made a die cut, and eWind got to work hand-assembling the shields.
“We were hand-cutting the Mylar for hours,” Schaefer said. “We made 50 for the VA, but then word of mouth got out and demand increased. We started a Go Fund Me for materials and shipping and raised $1,000 in less than 24 hours. Eventually we raised it to $5,000 and we were off and running.”
The Schaefers have shipped more than 1,000 face shields to date, providing them free to hospital staff and other medical professionals in the U.S. As dental offices, beauty and nail salons and other businesses begin to open, they’ll also need the shields. So the Schaefers are still cranking them out and selling each polycarbonate frame with 10 shields for $15 delivered locally, or $18 each if they have to be shipped. They’re contributing their labor at no charge.
“We’re just doing our part,” she said. “Medical professionals are out there putting their lives on the line and hopefully we won’t be short on medical emergency equipment ever again. Hopefully we learned a lesson.”
eWind is a Beaverton tech startup which can produce up to four times more clean wind energy than comparable static windmill generators. eWind has developed a cost-effective airborne wind energy system (AWES) called TED (Tethered Energy Device). It can access more consistent, reliable winds at higher altitudes than those reached by traditional wind turbines. TED flies crosswind in a reel-in/out path, which causes the tether to turn a generator on the ground and produce electricity. eWind’s first-generation system is scaled for use on farms and will produce 12kW (peak) and 45,000 kWh annually (average) — enough for a farming operation or five homes. It is currently in the testing stage.