Bladeless Wind Tower Design Produces Power from Spinning Vortices
Don’t get too attached to those gracefully oscillating wind turbine blades dotting the countryside. WIRED staff writer Liz Stinson says a Spanish company has come up with a design for a bladeless wind tower.
The Vortex, developed by Vortex Bladeless, “looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky,” she writes. “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.”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Rather than relying on a circular propeller to produce power, “the Vortex takes advantage of what’s known as vorticity, an aerodynamic effect that produces a pattern of spinning vortices.
Vorticity has long been considered the enemy of architects and engineers,” producing enough oscillation to bring down structures like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in a 1940 collapse. The Vortex team is trying to turn that risk into an advantage, developing a shape that would keep the vortices in sync along the entire mast.
“In its current prototype, the elongated cone is made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fibre, which allows the mast to vibrate as much as possible (an increase in mass reduces natural frequency),” Stinson explains.
“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.”