It may be hard to imagine that a simple stick rising from the ground can catch the wind, swirl it around and turn the vortex into electricity. Spanish startup Vortex has proved that it can be done, and the results of their bladeless wind turbine are so impressive that they put traditional wind turbines to shame. If the numbers are accurate and Vortex gets its funding, we could be in for a revolution of the first order in wind energy.
Vortex Bladeless seeks to reinvent the way we harness wind energy and turn it into electricity. It’s hard to put into words how the turbines actually work, but I’ll do my best using what I’ve gathered from the company’s blog.
The turbine itself is an asymmetrical cylindrical mast that starts off thin and bulges progressively towards the top. An articulation at the bottom harvests the effect of vortex shedding and causes it to giggle. It uses magnets to convert these oscillations into electricity. For more context, see the short 3-minute video embedded below. You’ll also get to see the bizarre moving pillar in action. Now for some numbers.
More efficient, cost-effective, and green
Vortex seems to avoid disclosing the exact amount of energy its wobbly pole is capable of producing compared to traditional turbines (that use spinning blades and rotors). However, the company’s site does put forth some favorable numbers and other benefits that should get the attention of investors far and wide. Here’s some of them:
- 53% off in manufacturing costs
- 51% off in operating costs
- 80% off in maintenance costs
- 40% global power generation costs reduction
- 40% carbon footprint reduction
- No gears or bearings – drastically simplifies manufacturing and maintenance
- Massive CO2 reduction thanks to fewer supplies and no lubrication oil
- Doesn’t kill birds
- Doesn’t require training
Currently valued at 70000 M€ with 318 GW power installation, the market is expected growth up to 600 GW power installation in 2020, with substantial increase of offshore installations. The Spanish startup says it has demonstrated the feasibility of this technology by carrying out dozens of wind tunnel tests. It is currently performing field tests using Vortex masts of various sizes and energy output.
The bladeless technology is said to be capable of powering whole buildings, allowing households and companies to cut the cord to the grid and never pay another electricity bill.