Are three-blade wind turbines really indispensable for the generation of wind power? Spanish startup Vortex Bladeless has introduced an unconventional “bladeless wind turbine” that exceeded imagination, and wind power generation will no longer be constrained to extensive areas in the future, while the concern on birds and bats is also eliminated at the same time.
How does the equipment of Vortex Bladeless operate? It is formed with lightweight and flexible composite glass fiber and carbon fiber, and the wind creates a vortex at the rear end of this cylindrical turbine when passing through, for which the phenomenon is referred to as vortex shedding. The process swings the equipment left and right repeatedly, and converts mechanical movement into electricity.
Despite looking like an enlarged version of a bedside toy, this wind power generator exerts advantages not to be sniffed at. David Yañez, co-founder of Vortex Bladeless, commented that the company wishes to provide cheaper wind power equipment that facilitates easier installations and fills up application fields that are incompatible with traditional wind turbines, such as rooftops, gardens, and parks, and bladeless turbines are able to adapt to the changes of the wind direction in a faster manner.
Vortex Bladeless hopes to see bladeless turbines installed in areas, such as cities and suburbs, that cannot be established with traditional wind turbines, due to the noiseless set up, and that the insignificant amount of active components makes it relatively easier for installations and maintenance. The bladeless turbines are also able to reduce the visual as well as environmental and ecological impact, since they are not configured with blades that impose a safety risk for birds and bats.
Bladeless turbines do not require gears, actuators, bearings, transmission shafts, and various lubricants. The inside of the turbine is adopted with an alternator, with two annular repulsive magnets at the bottom serving as the non-electric motor. When the wind blows the equipment to one side, the repulsive magnet forces it to the other, thus power generation is possible even when the wind speed remains low.
The preliminary testing of Vortex pointed out that the average cost of energy for the equipment is 30% less than that of traditional wind turbines owing to the low installation cost and maintenance requirements, though the prototype merely produces 100kW of electricity, and the company is currently seeking for working partners.
Vortex is not the first company that researches and develop bladeless wind turbines. Take the small vertical wind turbine developed by UK-based Alpha 311 as an example, which the company claims can be installed on street lights and highways that generate power when vehicles pass by, it has a power generation volume that is similar to a 20m2 solar panel. Another example would be the kite-like wind power generator established by German startup SkySail that captures gale at an altitude of 400m from an approximate capacity of 100-200KW, and the particular equipment is also referred to as an airborne wind turbine.
(Cover photo source: Vortex)