Energy News – 21/01/2017
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Wind turbines have become a relatively common site in Britain’s rural landscapes. The distinctive shape is crucial to the functioning of traditional turbines, the turning of the blades capturing kinetic energy and turning into electricity.
Unfortunately, it also creates noise, including low frequency sounds that can cause adverse health effects in humans. The moving parts mean that turbines need regular maintenance, an important consideration given the significant initial expense of turbine manufacture.
A new type of wind generator could solve these problems: Vortex Bladeless has created a new design for wind turbines that it claims are cheaper to manufacture, bladeless and practically silent.
Bladeless turbines use a different technique taking advantage of vorticity, an aerodynamic phenomenon that creates “repeating pattern of swirling vortices”. This complicated-sounding principle is best understood by watching the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940.
Generally avoided in design, vorticity offers an opportunity to harness and transform wind into kinetic energy and then electricity.
Vortex Bladeless co-founder, David Suriol claims their creation is a leap forward in wind energy, and is a “more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way to produce energy, reducing manufacturing costs by 53%, cut maintenance costs by 80%, and would represent a 40% reduction in both the carbon footprint and generation costs, when compared to conventional bladed wind turbines”.
The Vortex is also said to be quieter (than standard wind turbines), and to present a much lower risk to birds and the local environment.
According to an interview in Renewable Energy Magazine, the company has already raised over €1 million from both private and public funds in Europe, and is expected to roll out its pre-commercial prototype within the year, (to see more on Vortex Bladeless crowd funding see their website).
The shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is being driven in part by the demand of consumer, including businesses. Cheaper, smaller and less disruptive wind turbines could help expand the impact of wind energy on future local and national power grids.
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