wind power

The future of wind power may not have blades at all – Walter Einenkel

Wired put together a very interesting piece on the renewable energy company Vortex. They are now field testing bladeless wind energy turbines.

Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, 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, who actively try to design their way around these whirlpools of wind. And for good reason: With enough wind, vorticity can lead to an oscillating motion in structures, which, in some cases, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, can cause their eventual collapse

Using the energy created by the oscillation in structures has been covered on Daily Kos long before I came here. As with previous iterations of minimal moving parts and gearless wind turbines, the Vortex version may offer up a variety of advances to wind technology that arenot possible with today’s wind turbines.

Its makers boast the fact that there are no gears, bolts, or mechanically moving parts, which they say makes the Vortex cheaper to manufacture and maintain. The founders claim their Vortex Mini, which stands at around 41 feet tall, can capture up to 40 percent of the wind’s power during ideal conditions (this is when the wind is blowing at around 26 miles per hour). Based on field testing, the Mini 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.

Read more