A group of Spaniards has created an innovative bladeless wind turbine design that catches the force of the wind by vibrating rather than spinning.
Vortex Bladeless attempts to capitalise on the wind’s proclivity to fluctuate around stationary objects. The Vortex team was inspired by the legendary 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse—you may recall the footage from your high school physics class—to create a vertical mast that would oscillate when wind vortices wrapped around it. (The precise name is “vortex shedding.”) The cone-shaped mast is built of lightweight fiberglass and carbon fiber. Two rings of resisting magnets at the mast’s base aid to enhance its motions. A linear alternator converts all of the kinetic energy into electricity.
According to the business, the design offers significant benefits over ordinary wind turbines. Maintenance costs should be 80 percent cheaper than those of a standard turbine since there are no gears or other moving components to deal with, and there will be no filthy, environmentally harmful lubricants to deal with. Manufacturing costs are estimated to be more than half those of an equivalently powerful turbine. The masts should be safe for birds and create very little noise.
So, when can we expect to see Vortex Bladeless masts all over the country? In February, the firm migrated from Spain to Boston to collaborate with Harvard, SunEdison, and IDEO, as well as to seek venture money in addition to the $1 million it has already received from investors and the Spanish government. It even launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in June, swiftly exceeding its $50,000 goal. This video explains it in further detail.
The initial masts, which might be available by the end of 2015, would be nine feet tall and generate just 100 watts, and could be used in impoverished nations where there is no simple access to energy. Following that, a 41-foot, 220-pound variant with a four-kilowatt output will be built. Phase three will be a leap of faith: a 490-foot mast capable of generating one megawatt. Can Vortex Bladeless actually create one by 2018? We can only advise you to keep an eye on the horizon.
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