CHANGING THE FACE OF WIND ENERGY
Instead of capturing energy via the circular motion of a propeller, new designs like this one take 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.
There are no gears, bolts, or mechanically moving parts, which they say makes it cheaper to manufacture and maintain. The founders claim it 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.
The Vortex team says there are some clear advantages to their model: It’s less expensive to manufacture, totally silent, and safer for birds since there are no blades to fly into. This bladeless innovative turbine would cost around 51 percent less than a traditional turbine whose major costs come from the blades and support system.