Bladeless Windmill in your Backyard

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Apr 9, 2016 11:00:00 AM

vortexBoutros Boutros Ghali, as head of the UN, once wrote that "The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics", that was back in 1985 and although that hasn't yet been proved true, it is a message which has subsequently been repeated by others including, Ismail Serageldin, former VP of the World Bank in 1999 and then again by Kofi Annan in 2001. Whether or not this comes to fruition is anybody's guess but there's no disguising that we have a problem.

The debate about the reasons behind it are many and include global warming, over farming, and population growth, but one of the major reasons often gets overlooks, probably because most of us don't' understand the problem.

Generating electricity takes a lot of water and if we are to save water when generating power, we need to change the way in which we generate power.  Analysis company CNA, was hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate Electricity Generation and Water use in Texas and produced this report

What it shows is that coal with carbon capture power takes over 1100 gallons and consumes over 846 gallons per hour to produce a mega hour of electricity.  Nuclear takes little less (hence why they're built on the coast) and then coal is about half and natural gas is half again.

But it's not all bad, solar cells withdraw and consume only 28 gallons but wind power uses nothing.  So is the answer wind power?  Maybe, but the problem with wind farms is the blades at the top.  If you think Dyson's bladeless fan is cool, then these new bladeless windmills from Vortex may be welcome in your back yard.

With no moving parts, the Vortex has nothing to wear out and looks like a giant straw.  It works by taking advantage of something know as "vorticity", an aerodynamic effect that occurs when wind breaks against a solid structure (Karman vortex street) which causes the vortex structure to oscillate and capture the energy that is produced. Energy is generated by the oscillation of the "straw" as it rocks back and forth to generate an electromagnetic force.  For a better explanation of how it works, this video by the developers is pretty comprehensive.  

While it produces 30 percent less energy than traditional wind mills, more of them can be fitted into the same area and they cost about 50% less and it also won't cause problems for birds who have a habit of flying into the blades of existing wind farms.

Its early days for the Vortex, but with no moving parts, they are cheaper to operate and install than traditional windmills and may well end up in a street near you.

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