New Bladeless Turbine May Look NSFW But Could Be The Future Of Wind Power

Just what Mother Earth ordered. Image credit: Vortex Bladeless

Salvation comes in all shapes and sizes, and it seems, to the benefit of humans and wildlife, the next innovative leap forward in sustainable energy could be a suggestively shaped bladeless wind turbine. The novel technology has been created by Vortex Bladeless, a tech startup based in Avila, Spain, who describe their design as “a vortex-induced vibration resonant wind generator.” They hope that their new design can bring wind energy to residential areas, as it can function using generators or solar panels as well as connecting to the electrical grid.

A quick recap for wind energy novices: Wind farms are populated with wind turbines which, instead of using electricity to spin, use wind. As the propeller-like blades spin like a fan, it turns a rotor which spins a generator and creates electricity. The sustainable source of energy unfortunately isn’t without its flaws, with the death of wildlife being quite high on the list. Preventative measures to protect them have included painting one blade black or using smart cameras to stop and start the turbines, but neither is a perfect solution.

Enter our vibrator-lookalike power tool: The Vortex Bladeless Turbine. The wobbling pylon isn’t technically a turbine as it doesn’t rotate or spin an alternator in the same way bladed wind turbines do. Instead, it relies on vortex shedding (the swirly shapes made by air and liquids when they hit a solid, blunt object) to harness wind energy.

When a strong enough breeze buffets the fixed, vertical cylinder the unfixed end starts to wobble. This is a phenomenon that’s usually considered a design flaw in most construction projects (nobody wants to live in a tall apartment building that jiggles about on a windy day) but the engineers actively selected for this as it’s this movement that is translated into energy. The entire project was actually dreamt up in 2012 by David Yáñez after watching a video of the Tacoma Narrow’s bridge oscillating in the wind.


Vortex’s website at time of writing says that currently, the bladeless technology translates its jostling into electricity via an alternator system, which has been carefully crafted using coils and magnets so that it best monopolizes on the vortex dynamics without the need for gears, shafts or any rotating parts. “Our Vortex generator is currently considered a “small wind turbine,” the company says.

You might snicker when you spot from afar what appears to be an intimidatingly enormous vibrator flopping about in the breeze, but this quiet and gentle (like all generous lovers) design means it could near-enough be in your back garden without causing notable disruption to you or the local birds. Considering wind farms have been complicit in the blending of endangered species, that the Vortex Bladeless Turbine won’t pulverize wildlife is obviously a strong argument for the novel tech.

So, keep a weather eye on the horizon. Wind energy might be about to undergo a spicy makeover.


 This Week in IFLScience

Receive our biggest science stories to your inbox weekly!

Comments

If you liked this story, you'll love these

This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.