Wind turbine without blades are now possible

Wind turbine without blades are now possible

A Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless is proposing a radical new way to generate wind energy that will once again upend what you see outside your car window. 

Their idea is the Vortex, a bladeless wind turbine that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. The Vortex has the same goals as conventional wind turbines: To turn breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity. But it goes about it in an entirely different way.


                                                            
                                                    Credit: Vortex Bladeless

The Vortex, as their new wind turbine is called, is conical in shape and comes in two types: Vortex Gran and Vortex Mini. The turbines are conical in shape and use an aerodynamic concept called vorticity to capture the energy. Vorticity poses challenges for architects trying to avoid situations like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which collapsed after being hit by whirlpools of wind.

Instead of using the wind to rotate a blade, the company's pillars shake back and forth from the vortices created by the movement of air around the structure. Engineers look to avoid these forces when designing buildings and other structures, but the Vortex turbine takes advantage of this phenomenon to oscillate in the wind. Typically, a structure can only be optimized to oscillate at the specific frequencies caused by a certain wind speed, but Vortex says it is using magnets to adjust the turbine on the fly to get the most from whatever the wind speeds happen to be. Once the structure starts vibrating, an alternator in the base of the device then converts the mechanical movement into electricity.

But why bother switching from traditional wind turbines in the first place? Well, Vortex claims that energy produced by its turbines will cost around 40 percent less than energy made from wind turbines that are operating today. A large part of that cost reduction comes from maintenance — since the Vortex doesn't have moving parts or gears, it should last longer and it won't require periodic lubrication. The simpler design also means that manufacturing costs are about half that of a traditional wind turbine (those massive blades are expensive). That said, Vortex tells Wired that its bladeless design captures around 30 percent less energy than a regular turbine. The company does note, however, that it's possible to fit more of the Vortex models in the same area. And, as a bonus, the bladeless turbines are silent.

Vortex is working on a few different sizes; its "Mini," a 41-foot model, should be ready for commercialization next year, while a larger, industrial model is in the works for 2018. If all goes according to plan, wind farms might look quite a bit different the next time you take a cross-country road trip. (Source: wired)

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