Tunisian green energy startup Saphon Energy has created a new bladeless wind turbine which draws inspiration from the design of a ship’s sails, and promises to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity at up to double the efficiency – and half the cost – of a typical wind turbine.
Dubbed the “Saphonian,” in honor of an ancient wind divinity worshiped by the Carthaginian Mediterranean culture which predated modern Tunisia, the current iteration of bladeless wind turbine is the second prototype developed by the company thus far.
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As illustrated by the development of the Solar Aero and Catching Wind Power bladeless turbines, there is a perceived need for wind turbines which can offer renewable energy while also avoiding the use of rotating blades, which can cause noise pollution and be harmful to birds.
The Saphonian turbine implements a patented system called “Zero-Blade Technology” in order to harness the wind’s energy. This is said to involve channeling the wind in a back and forth motion, until it is converted into mechanical energy using pistons. The pistons then produce hydraulic pressure, which can be instantly converted to electricity via a hydraulic motor and a generator, or stored in a hydraulic accumulator.
The savings in manufacturing result from being able to discard the blades, hub and gearbox needed in a traditional wind turbine, according to Saphon Energy. In addition, though we've been given no hard figures, the company claims that the Saphonian works to a level of efficiency which exceeds the Betz limit – a proposition which leaves us feeling skeptical, though admittedly intrigued.
The Saphonian bladeless turbine received an international patent this March, and Saphon Energy is currently seeking collaboration with a manufacturer in order to bring the technology to market, a process which the company estimates could take up to two years.
The promo video below features a little more information on the project.