Find the idea of wind energy appealing? I certainly do. How about the idea of wind energy without the massive blades that currently allow a wind turbine to collect that energy? Sounds like something out of a science fiction novel to me!
Well, it may be time to get used to the idea. Spanish startup Vortex Bladeless is aiming to provide just that: wind energy that can be captured without the blades. Based on the physics that caused a bridge to collapse in 1940, this new addition to the renewable energy industry may significantly lower the cost of generating wind energy. The Vortex harnesses kinetic energy by taking advantage of vorticity, or the naturally occurring whirling motion of wind.
Not only can this idea change the approach to collecting wind energy, it also may have the power to change certain public views on the industry. The massive blades that currently collect wind energy wreak havoc on bird populations during yearly migrations. Conservation scientists often are disappointed by wind energy technology due to bird deaths associated with the turbines. The Vortex presents a solution to this issue and will allow conservation initiatives and wind energy to work hand-in-hand. Additionally, early arguments against wind energy include complaints about the visual impact that a large white industrial turbine has on an otherwise pristine landscape; this new technology, although not completely obliterating it, would change the visual impact of wind-energy generators.
There are, as with all new inventions, skeptics that criticize the feasibility of this invention on a larger scale. Phil McKenna from MIT’s Technology Review is one of them, describing engineering and harnessing optimization issues that will come with increased height of the structure. The Vortex Bladeless team will have to continue to work and test their product in order to be successful in this industry. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this addition to the renewable energy landscape.
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