A few years ago, Festo created a flying bird model that was remarkably similar to the genuine article. Now they’re turning their attention to wind power.
It makes sense, of course, since the same aerodynamic principles that enable birds and airplanes to fly can be applied to the stationary wings of a wind power device. Thus, the blades on the typical wind turbine are aerodynamically shaped to channel the wind as efficiently as possible, turning a generator to generate electricity.
Festo’s approach to wind power is unique and revolutionary. The prototype uses aerodynamic wings mounted on a central tower, sticking out each side a little over eight feet. The wings of the Festo DualWingGenerator move up and down on their axes as the wind blows over them. The central tower holds the timing belt, flywheels, and transmission, which converts the vertical motion of the wings into rotational motion, eventually turning a generator.
Festo’s new wind power device is still only in prototype stage, but it is remarkably efficient for its design, particularly in comparison to similarly-sized conventional wind turbines. Between wind speeds of 9-18 mph, the Festo DualWingGenerator achieved up to 45% efficiency, compared to the theoretical 59.4% Betz Limit. As it stands, the most-efficient wind turbines in the world, made by General Electric, are pushing 53% efficiency.
Thinking about wind power designs, one thing strikes me as interesting about the Festo DualWingGenerator, the fact that its blades do not sweep a large area. Multiple sets could be mounted on a single pole, increasing output for a given area. Also, even if it was mounted high to take advantage of higher and more consistent wind speeds, the chances of high-flying migratory birds and birds of prey being impacted would be slim.
Image © Festo