Those wind turbines with huge blades used to generate energy might have it’s days counted thanks to a Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless. The company has designed a tower that dispenses the propellers, but is made of the same material, and oscillates in the wind taking advantage of what is commonly known as vorticity to generate electricity.
Vorticity is an aerodynamic effect in which the wind flowing around a structure creates a pattern of small vortexes. These vortexes are strong enough to make a fixed structure resonate and oscillate to the wind forces. The effect of vorticity can be incredibly powerful, an example of how strong it can be seen from what happened to the famous Tacoma Narrows bridge, which was struck by strong winds and began to flutter until it eventually collapsed into the Tacoma river just a few months after its opening in 1940.
The principle of Vortex Bladeless is to take advantage of the oscillation caused by vorticity to produce electricity. The main current prototype is basically a sort of elongated cone made of fiberglass and carbon fiber. Below it, at the base, are two magnets that repel each other – and which act as a type of nonelectrical motor, moving the cone – and an alternator, responsible for generating electricity from the kinetic energy.
The structure of a Vortex Mini is just over 12 meters high, and the cone weighs only 3.8 kg. The devices are not as efficient as a classic wind turbine, but can stand much closer to each other, which means you can put more towers in a smaller space – and this is just one of the benefits highlighted by the company.
As the co-founder of Vortex Bladeless, David Suriol, said in a presentation made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last month, the fact that it does not contain mechanical components already makes the structure 51% cheaper than the ones existing today. The tower also takes up lesser space, doesn’t make so much noise and is not so dangerous for birds flying around it.
The Vortex Bladeless managed to raise 1 million dollars in public and private investments in Spain, and plans to launch its first product – a tower just over two meters tall to be used in developing countries – by the end of this year. Their tallest structure, should only be ready within a year.