The future of wind energy may end up surprising you if Vortex Bladeless gains enough momentum with its crowdfunding capabilities. Though in its preliminary stages of design, implementation, and data collection, Vortex offers a unique solution to the age-old problem of a concept designers and engineers have come to know and despise – vorticity.
Vorticity is a vector quantity (it has both magnitude AND applied direction), meaning it is the rate of change or curl of a flow field. In other words, vorticity is the measure of circulation of a fluid. For our purposes, this fluid is air and can be visualized as whirlpools of wind.
So, why have engineers and designers avoided vorticity in the design process? Simple. When there is enough wind energy, vorticity can cause oscillation in structures. In extreme cases, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, vorticity can lead to the failure and collapse of an entire system!
OK. Great. But how does this all factor into the next generation of wind turbines? Here’s where the science gets innovative and intriguing. The founders of the Spanish company Vortex Bladeless (David Suriol, David Yáñez, and Raul Martín) use a different approach altogether for capturing the potential of the wind and converting it to electricity. Instead of working against the natural ebbs inherent in wind, these designers created a prototype that uses the vortices of the wind (the circulation around a fixed point) acting along the axis of the “mast”. The mast is made out of a combination of fiberglass and carbon-fiber, allowing the mast to vibrate as much as possible. As the wind disrupts the stationary position of the mast, the mast vibrates back and forth. At its base, two repelling magnetic rings enhance the movement of the mast, amplifying the kinetic energy of the system that is then converted to electricity via an alternator.
Source: Vortex Bladeless
Pretty cool, huh? This self-perpetuating system offers more advantages that really ignite interest from investors. There are no gears, no mechanically moving parts, or bolts. This reduces manufacturing costs by 53%, operating costs by 51%, operational expenditures by 80%, global power generation reduction by 40%, and carbon footprint reduction by 40%! With all this said, it almost sounds too good to be true.
After some research and analysis of test areas using the Vortex Bladeless technology, it shows that it captures about 30% less energy from the wind; however, what it lacks in overall energy collection, it makes up for in that you can install double the amount of Vortex turbines into the same space as one traditional wind turbine.
So what’s next for this prototype? Measures are already underway for two new innovations: the Vortex Atlantis (rating of 100W) and the Vortex Mini (rating of 4KW). The Vortex Atlantis means to harness the wind energy of a small, distributed grid system (i.e. a household for consumer needs) and intended for use in combination with solar or PV grid systems. The Vortex Mini means to utilize wind on the industrial and commercial-scale by using this concept by way of a centralized energy grid.
Source: Vortex Bladeless
Compelling in its attitude to shift the paradigm away from blade-driven turbines, Vortex Bladeless caught onto the inherent gift of vortices in wind and saw inspiration where others saw fear. By stepping back and examining the problem with different lenses, opportunity arises in the unlikeliest of places.