The company, Vortex Bladeless constructs exactly what their name implies – a wind turbine without the blades.
Wind farms currently supply 0.2% of the worlds energy demands. The main environmental concern of wind turbines is the number of avian deaths. The American Bird Conservatory estimates that wind turbines kill between 10 and 40 thousand birds per year (however to put this in perspective it is estimated that 10,000 birds die per year between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. due to collisions with brightly lit office towers).
So how does a turbine work without its blades? These new turbines takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices.
Previously engineers and architects have tried to design around these wind whirlpools – with enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures which can lead to their collapse. The Tacoma Narrow Bridge is the result of strong vorticity.
The new Vortex is designed to vibrate as much as possible. At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast’s movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast’s oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency.
The Vortex is constructed with no gears, bolts, or mechanically moving parts, which makes the Vortex cheaper to manufacture and maintain. Based on field testing, the Mini Vortex (standing at 40 feet tall) ultimately captures 30 percent less than conventional wind turbines, but that shortcoming is compensated by the fact that you can put double the Vortex turbines into the same space as a propeller turbine.
The Vortex team says there are some clear advantages to their model: It’s less expensive to manufacture, totally silent, and safer for birds since there are no blades to fly into. Vortex Bladeless says its turbine would cost around 51 percent less than a traditional turbine whose major costs come from the blades and support system.
With these advantages this new design could quite literally radically change the wind power landscape!
Image: Vortex (c)