New Wind Technology Doesn't Need Turbines

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-21 18:21:36

Vortex Bladeless, a Spanish start-up, has proposed a new way of harnessing energy from wind that doesn’t require turbines.

The new system generates electricity using the swaying of masts, which move magnets placed in a joint near the masts’ base. Vortices of air are formed along the structure, and this energy is used to generate electricity.

The system consists of a fixed mast, a power generator a semi-rigid fiberglass cylinder. The power generator is made using magnetic couplings, so no friction is generated and lubrication is not required.

The company claims that this means the costs of a Vortex system is much lower than traditional wind turbines - about half the construction cost and about 20 percent of the maintenance costs. 

The lack of blades also means the system is quieter than traditional systems and less likely to kill birds.

The company has two models in development, a +1MW model for utilities and a domestic 4kW model. Funding, so far, has come from a Repsol Foundation Grant, a loan from the Spanish Government and venture capitalists in Spain (Spanish Angels). In February of this year, Vortex Bladeless relocated to Boston. Here their development team is working with Harvard University.

The company says that the expected growth for wind energy is anticipated to be up to 600GW by 2020, with a substantial increase in offshore installations. A crowdfunding campaign will be launched on June 1.

People commenting on the system on social media have had mixed reactions to the technology. “It just doesn't intercept enough area of wind or create large enough movements for a cost-efficient generator,” said one person.

“Looks like it could be adapted to ocean wave use as well,” says another.