Vortex bladeless turbines wobble to generate energy
Looking somewhat like a giant reed gently swaying in the wind, the new Vortexbladeless wind-driven generator prototype produces electricity with very few moving parts, on avery small footprint, and in almost complete silence. Designed to reduce thevisual and aural impact of traditional spinning-blade turbines, this new devicetakes advantage of the power contained in swirling vortices of air.
Many opponents of spinning wind turbines point to their supposed danger tobirds and other flying animals, as well as their rather noisy operation and –particularly in commercial installations – their enormous size. Though these may well be excuses by those who prefer to stay with olderelectricity generating technologies that they know and trust, standard wind-driventurbines do have these issues and this tends to hold back their universal acceptance anduse.
This is where the creators of the Vortex bladeless believe thattheir device has the advantage. A relatively compact unit, it relies on theoscillation of its reed-like mast in reaction to air vortices to move a series ofmagnets located in the joint near its base to generate electricity.
Though obviously not as efficient as a high-speed, directly wind-driventurbine, this is offset by the fact that the Vortexhas fewer moving parts and is, according to the creators, up to 80 percent more costeffective to maintain. Coupled to the notion that it supposedly has a greaterthan 50 percent manufacturing cost advantage and a 40 percent reductionin its carbon footprint compared to standard wind turbines, the system alsoseems to offer direct economic advantages.
We've explored a number of bladeless wind-turbines before – the Solar Aeroturbine being one (though, by definition, not really bladeless as it merelycovered the spinning blades with a housing) and the Saphonian being another.The latter being more of a true bladeless "turbine," it still required hydraulicactuation of pistons to generate electricity, so its efficiency was probably not all that great (and, to be perfectly frank, it was not strictly a turbine either as it had no spinning parts).
The Vortex, on the other hand, is purported to take advantage of the swirling motion of wind and not direct force like the aforementioned units. This means that it can generate energy from the repeating pattern of vortices (known as the Kármán vortex street), which are generated as the air separates to pass by a blunt body, such as the Vortex structure itself.
This also means that groups of Vortex units can be huddled closer together as the disruption of air movement in the wind stream is nowhere near as critical as it is when positioning standard, blade-driven wind turbines. This will also help ameliorate the inherent efficiencies in each unit as they can be grouped much closer together than their standard turbine counterparts and, therefore, potentially generate more power per square meter.
The first model to be madeavailable commercially will be known as the Mini: a 4 kW, 12.5 meter (41 ft) highunit intended for residential and small-scale commercial application.A larger model, dubbed the Gran, is also being designed and is a unit with agreater than one-megawatt output intended for use in large-scale powergeneration for industry and electricity companies.
To get their creations to production, the team at Vortex will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on June 1, with details to become available via email alerts on the company's website.
The short video below shows a Vortex prototype in action and provides some background information from its creators.