This year has seen an influx of new wind turbine designs and among them are many bladeless concepts. The one that has created the most fuss recently comes from the Netherlands, a collaboration between the architecture firm Mecanoo and researchers at the Delft Technical University.
The Deflt researchers are developing a system they call EWICON which stands for “Electrostatic Wind Energy Convertor” and it creates energy through the displacement of charged water particles by the wind in the opposite direction of an electrical field. The system comprises of a steel frame that holds around 40 horizontal tubes around which lie numerous electrodes and nozzles that release positively charged water particles into the air. As each wave of positively charged water particles is drawn away from the negative electrodes on the tubes of the EWICON by the wind, the voltage changes and an electric field is generated.
To date, only small scale working prototypes have been built but the team are seeking funding to create a full size working model. The system would be very suited to urban environments as there are no moving parts meaning that it creates less noise and vibration than a conventional wind turbine and also would require less maintenance.
Watch a video of how this system works;
Other bladeless systems;
The Tesla Turbine
SolarAero are another group that have unveiled a new bladeless wind turbine system. Their turbine system is based on the Tesla bladeless centripetal flow turbine patented by Nikola Tesla in 1913. The turbine has a series of closely packed parallel disks attached to a shaft and arranged within a sealed chamber. When a fluid is allowed to enter the chamber and pass between the disks, the disks turn, which in turn rotates the shaft. This rotary motion can be used in a variety of ways, from powering pumps, blowers and compressors to running cars and airplanes. In fact, Tesla claimed that the turbine was the most efficient and the most simply designed rotary engine ever designed.
According to the company, this turbine should cost around $1.50 per watt of rated output, and have a lifetime operating cost of about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour — comparable to, or even better than, current retail electrical rates in many parts of the country. This would make the SolarAero turbine about 2/3 the price of a comparable bladed unit, and because of the significantly lower operating costs, lifetime maintenance could be just 1/4 the cost. At this point the project is still under development, and no manufacturer has been lined up as of yet.
Saphon Energy Sail Turbine
Tunisian green energy startup Saphon Energy has created a new bladeless wind turbine which draws inspiration from the design of a ship’s sails, and promises to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity at up to double the efficiency – and 45% of the cost – of a typical wind turbine.
The turbine uses a patented system called “Zero-Blade Technology” that involved channelling the wind in a back and forth motion, until it is converted into mechanical energy using pistons. The pistons then produce hydraulic pressure, which can be instantly converted to electricity via a hydraulic motor and a generator, or stored in a hydraulic accumulator.
Saphon energy have an international patent for their turbine but are seeking a manufacturer that will take their product to market, a process that they say will take approximately 2 years.