Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Power

Wind Turbines With No Blades 164

An anonymous reader writes: Wired has a profile of Spanish company Vortex Bladeless and their unusual new wind turbine tech. "Their idea is the Vortex, a bladeless wind turbine that looks like a giant rolled joint shooting into the sky. The Vortex has the same goals as conventional wind turbines: To turn breezes into kinetic energy that can be used as electricity." Instead of relying on wind to push a propeller in a circular motion, these turbines rely on vorticity — how wind can strike an object in a particular way to generate spinning vortices of air. Engineers usually try to avoid this — it's what brought down the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. But this Spanish company designed the turbine computationally to have the vortices occur at the same time along its entire height. "In its current prototype, the elongated cone is made from a composite of fiberglass and carbon fiber, which allows the mast to vibrate as much as possible (an increase in mass reduces natural frequency). At the base of the cone are two rings of repelling magnets, which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor. When the cone oscillates one way, the repelling magnets pull it in the other direction, like a slight nudge to boost the mast's movement regardless of wind speed. This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator that multiplies the frequency of the mast's oscillation to improve the energy-gathering efficiency."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wind Turbines With No Blades

Comments Filter:
  • If it works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by niftymitch ( 1625721 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @04:00PM (#49706925)

    If it works as well as hoped this will save a lot of
    big birds from an early demise.

    Big fans rotating like heck are an astounding challenge to keep intact
    and maintain. Not that these will be any easier but "Big Bird's" yellow
    feathers will be safer (one can hope).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NatasRevol ( 731260 )

      Cats kill at least an order of magnitude more birds than windmills do.

      • Re:If it works (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Prune ( 557140 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @04:36PM (#49707103)

        Cats kill at least an order of magnitude more birds than windmills do. [implication: it's not worth worrying about wind turbines killing birds]

        Almost every time bird-killing wind turbines are discussed, someone posts this non-argument.

        Let's apply well-known Slashdot troll NatasRevol's logic to other things:
        - Heart disease kills at least an order of magnitude more people than diabetes. [implication: it's not worth worrying about diabetes killing people]
        - Windows runs on at least an order of magnitude more personal desktops than Linux. [implication: it's not worth being concerned about the Linux desktop experience]
        - Slashdot user BarbaraHudson posts at least an order of magnitude more troll posts than NatasRevol. [implication: it's not worth being annoyed at NatasRevol shitposting]

        And then there's this: how many eagles and other large threatened and endangered birds are cats killing?

        Federal Court Rules Massive Wind Energy Project in Violation of Endangered Species Act [prnewswire.com]

        • Bird killers (Score:5, Informative)

          by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @06:17PM (#49707591) Homepage

          Cats kill at least an order of magnitude more birds than windmills do. [implication: it's not worth worrying about wind turbines killing birds]

          Almost every time bird-killing wind turbines are discussed, someone posts this non-argument.

          It's a bit badly formulated, but the argument isn't that much flawed.
          - Indeed, although cats are a rather random example, there are TONS of human made things which kill a lot more birds than wind turbines. If you want to save birds, better concentrate on these bigger causes first.

          The "birds" argument tries simply to say in a humoristic way: Even "putting hi-tech bird saving contraptions(tm)" (a.k.a.: bells on their collar) on house cats will be much more efficient than scratching your head about wind turbines.

          More seriously: even if it is spectacular (because its a new technology, because these are big impressive devices, and because the bird "victims" tend to pile up in a limited place) wind turbine are far from the most dangerous things to birds.
          I would strongly suspect (but don't have precise numbers) that pollution is among the highest bird-killing human-made factor. (But it's a lot less mind grabbing: we're used to polution, it's a boring subject for refular people. Also birds dead by it would be spread allover the region instead of forming a nice pile at the feet of the turbine).
          Given that wind turbines tend to lower pollution (even more in countries that would otherwise burn fossils to produce their electricity), it might happen that the bird-killing machine would be actually saving birds life at the larger scale.

          - Also there's another smaller factor not to forget:
          Darwin's law, and evolution. Birds do adapt.
          There's a very impressive example: glass. A few decades ago, our industry progress to the point of being able to produce huge glass pannels. Instead of small window, big glass walls started to appear. Problem: birds couldn't see or even notice the glass. You had accounts of lots of city birds hitting their head on glass walls. And poor city birds trapped inside big glass building (in the cafeteria) trying desperately to fly against this huge "invisible (to them) forcefield" (the glass wall).
          Fast forward to now: there probably a couple of city birds happily living in your building's cafeteria. Feasting on left-overs, and hidden from predators.
          There's such a huge advantage (avoid death, avoid getting lost, free shelter, free food, etc.) at slightly tweaking the visual system until glass become noticeable that city birds have evolved to the this point.
          If it's so deadly to them, birds will probably slightly tweak their brains until able to grasp the concept of "big huge mass of turning metal" (it's not impossible it's totally within the realm of their capabilites). When you look at it, some members of the corvidae family have grasped the concept of cars as "big heavy metal box which blindly follow roads". They don't run away scared. The use car as nut opener: leave them on the road and wait patiently at the road side until a car smashes the nut open (whereas their great-gand-parents need to fly way up and crack them by dropping them from a high altitude onto a rock. Or onto the occasional bald greek theatrical author). Compared to that, grasping the concept of a wheel turbine is well within the realm of possibilities.

          Let's apply well-known Slashdot troll NatasRevol's logic to other things:
          - Heart disease kills at least an order of magnitude more people than diabetes. [implication: it's not worth worrying about diabetes killing people]

          (Ob. car analogy: "Traffic incidents kill at least an order of magnitude more poeple than car collisions")

          Uh. No. You're completely bogus on this one.
          YA*N*AMD, whereas I*A*AAMD.
          With diabetes, in the long term, the things that most likely will kill you (baring an accidental hypo glycemia due to treatment error) is the slow and progressive destruction of the blood vessel.

          • That's a long post, but I'm not sure if you've got the point, which is, you can't lump all birds together. If a few thousand sparrows die to cats (or windmills), no big deal.

            But if a few hundred California condors die to windmills, then we have serious problems.
            • Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

              by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Sunday May 17, 2015 @06:31AM (#49709933) Homepage

              But if a few hundred California condors die to windmills, then we have serious problems.

              Yes you'll have *a* serious problem. But this problem isn't specifically the wind mills.
              The problem is the whole range of human activities that drove their population down to the point that a hundred of dying condors is significant.
              (I suspect, mainly massive changes in their natural habitat, big disruption of the ecological equilibrium, esp. in regards of the prey they usually feed on. Probably environmental pollution. Maybe a little bit of hunting too.)
              Banning windmills is only a surface problem. The few condors that might die because of them probably won't. But it doesn't solve the actual main big problem that condors are endangered.
              Protected wildlife reservation might help more, for example.

              • That sounds like a lot of speculation entirely designed to justify your desired opinion.
                • by dave420 ( 699308 )
                  It's pretty simple logic. If you are worried that rare condors will die after hitting windmills, the real problem isn't the windmills killing them, but that the condors are endangered in the first place. Fix that problem, and the windmills killing them ceases to be a problem and you have a thriving condor population. Just getting rid of windmills because they could possibly kill endangered species while doing nothing to stop them being endangered leaves us without windmill energy, and still with endanger
                  • Regardless of which end of the problem you focus on it's not prudent to build the windmills. Putting up a potential known hazard to an endangered species, regardless of if you're addressing the root causes is not a good way to help encourage population growth. The windmills being dangerous to condors is only a non-issue if the condor population is stabilized and healthy enough to not be considered endangered.

                  • It's pretty simple logic.

                    Briefly, your logic looks like this: "I like windmills, so condors can fuck themselves." That's not how the real world works, bro.

          • The arugment OTOH could be "those with a brain allowing them to see glass pane, do get a survival and reproduction advantage, those who don't , have a higher chance of dying before reproduction thus the glass window generate a natural selection of birds". Also I am doubtful of that. I do not recall any study showing that bird start to see reflective surface as glass pane rather than continuation of their habitat. Would you have a cite ?
            • The arugment OTOH could be "those with a brain allowing them to see glass pane, do get a survival and reproduction advantage, those who don't , have a higher chance of dying before reproduction thus the glass window generate a natural selection of birds".

              "...and random mutation add to genetic variability, feeding in more differences that could be furter selected this way".
              Thus as condition shifts, a new local minima can be reached.
              Yup on /. we all know how evolution actually works (no "big plans" or "intention" involved).

              Also I am doubtful of that. I do not recall any study showing that bird start to see reflective surface as glass pane rather than continuation of their habitat. Would you have a cite ?

              Hmm... I've come accross some statistics being done this way (proportion of death of birds hitting their head on glass diminishing in the bird population, etc.). No actual bird-brain studies.
              Haven't the reference at hand right now. Will co

        • - Slashdot user BarbaraHudson posts at least an order of magnitude more troll posts than NatasRevol. [implication: it's not worth being annoyed at NatasRevol shitposting]

          That got a lol.

        • How about you compare to the amount of birds and other life killed by coal power, instead?
          1) Habitat destruction from mining coal
          2) Pollution from mining coal
          3) Pollution from burning coal (carcinogenic particulates, acids, mercury, etc)
          4) Death toll from global warming
          etc

          Just maybe windmills save the lives of birds, on average.

          • I find it hard to think that birds can't evade turbine blades, given that the latter are large and slow moving compared to other things that birds can outmanoeuvre.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Okay, try this. Coal kills many more birds than wind. Nuclear kills about the same number per gigawatt. It's unfortunate, but still one of the safest and least deadly forms of electricity generation.

          • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

            And of course most man caused bird deaths - about 1 to 3 million a day (USA) die flying into ordinary household windows. When's the last time you heard someone ranting about the danger of windows to birds?

        • Full circle
          http://photography-on-the.net/... [photography-on-the.net]

      • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @05:07PM (#49707217) Homepage

        Cats kill at least an order of magnitude more birds than windmills do.

        ... while generating very little usable power. Practical cat-based renewable energy [youtube.com] is at least 30 years away from commercial use.

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        Who cares?

        If we have an option between "windmill that kills birds" and "windmill that does not do that", the second has a bit of merit because of that fact. It's in the discussion. Certainly, the decision to expand new windmills is affected by the bird-death argument: we could probably stand to use an order of magnitude more windmills, after all, and by your estimate, they would then by tying the cats.

        Cats are atopical. I'm sure a bunch of crap kills birds aplenty. This is a discussion about windmills.

    • I truly hope that Cheech Maron, and Tommy Chong would be contacted to be the initial spokes people for this project.
    • I should rate you as overrated, but will answer you instead.
      It is mostly another anti-AGW myth that large numbers of big birds are being killed by wind generators. One site has a serious issue and others have a small issue.

      Now, with that said, BATS do suffer greatly at this. Not any particular bat, but all of them seem to not see the blades even though they have the ability to track small fast things. This might help save them.

      Personally, I would be far more interested in seeing what the $/KW are on
      • I should rate you as overrated, but will answer you instead.

        It is mostly another anti-AGW myth that large numbers of big birds are being killed by wind generators. One site has a serious issue and others have a small issue.

        Now, with that said, BATS do suffer greatly at this. Not any particular bat, but all of them seem to not see the blades even though they have the ability to track small fast things. This might help save them.

        Personally, I would be far more interested in seeing what the $/KW are on this, along with what kind of winds are required to move it.

        I learned something... the bats issue is new to me.
        Yes the $/WK and towers per acre seem important.

        Another remarked that Altamont pass is worse in this regard than most
        other locations. It seems to me that Towers with confirmed bird problems
        could be replaced with this as an alternative iff it works well.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )
        The bats don't have to be hit by the blades to die - the pressure differences in the turbulence caused by the blades can make their lungs explode. They just need to fly past at the wrong moment. It's called "barotrauma" by some, and is not particularly nice.
    • Well may be it can be true but it takes some explaining. The central problem I see is the crossection is smaller. SO how can it extract energy from wind that does not pass through its crossection? For that to be true then it implies that somehow the energy depleted wind is sucking energy from the surrounding windfeild as it passes by. I could imagine this is potentially possible. For example if you were to picture the wind like water piling up behind your hand in stream then it's the up stream water pus

    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

      You must go nuts at people who install windows in their houses because:
      Windows may kill up to 988 million birds a year in the United States | Science News [sciencenews.org]

      Well, do you? And what about cats and radio towers?

      Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually - a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats

      • You must go nuts at people who install windows in their houses because:
        Windows may kill up to 988 million birds a year in the United States | Science News [sciencenews.org]

        Well, do you? And what about cats and radio towers?

        Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually - a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats

        Yes the world is a difficult place.
        The big wind farms that I drive past are also the best location for
        large soaring birds to get their lift before they fly out over the flatter
        areas with good hunting So as correct as you are the big raptors suffer
        from some installations out of measure.

        Closer to home I have noticed a hawk lurking in a tall tree to swoop down and
        gobble doves. For dessert he has been observed grabbing a hummingbird on the wing.

    • If it works as well as hoped this will save a lot of
      big birds from an early demise.

      Big fans rotating like heck are an astounding challenge to keep intact
      and maintain. Not that these will be any easier but "Big Bird's" yellow
      feathers will be safer (one can hope).

      Presumeably, if the vibration is intense, it could be transferred to the ground. And the description of that shape is such that it may have a directional fog-horn effect, amplifying the vibration sound multifold times.
      Still, I agree with you, its better than spinning blades and better than focused mirrors that kill birds that fly through the mirror's focus path.

    • Dyson have a bladeless fan (http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2009/10/dyson-fan-pr-1.jpg). I've wondered why the reverse of this doesn't work for electricity generation.

      • That dyson fan does have blades, they're just hidden inside the base: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix... [dailymail.co.uk] The same would not work for power generation.
        • For the purposes of avian depopulation, the dyson doesn't have blades. The air current pushed out by them generates a breeze through the hoop. I expect the efficiency of this is pretty poor, and that attempting the reverse wouldn't generate enough power to make it worthwhile.

  • There’s enough interest, Suriol says, that he fields upward of 200 emails a day from people inquiring about the turbine.

    How many of those are from bloggers and other online tech writers?

    Seriously, though - this actually does look interesting. Current wind tech brings some pretty glaring issues along with the benefits.

  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @04:18PM (#49707007) Journal

    which act as a sort of nonelectrical motor.

    I sped read through the drivel (article) until I got to this and then quit reading.

    So many words to say so little by someone who doesn't understand science.

    • Yeah; I thought the same thing, and then my inner devil's advocate came along and said "yeah, but if they're converting wind into kinetic motion via magnetism, that's not really an electric motor, is it?"

      And I responded with "This kinetic energy is then converted into electricity via an alternator" -- the only "kind of" is that it is only a part of the generator being described at that point.

    • What do you call device that imparts motion without using electricity?

    • motor
      noun
      noun: motor; plural noun: motors
      1. a machine, especially [but not exclusively] one powered by electricity or internal combustion, that supplies motive power for a vehicle or for some other device with moving parts.

      A car engine is a motor.

  • My 2nd thought was that this looks like a field of dicks. It may be a way to win over powerful nimby types who look and find that there's something, er, aesthetically pleasing about them.

    • Possibly you could paint them in an appropriate type of camo so that they blend into the landscape better, which is something that Just Won't Work with a traditional windmill.
      • Or turn it into an art installation. Get someone old school like Andy Warhol. If you got someone modern they *would* paint them like dicks.

  • by asc99c ( 938635 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @04:59PM (#49707191) Homepage
    Their first product is a 100W 9 foot version. I found that quite interesting if it can scale down to streetlight scale. Not sure if the movements are small vibrations or large scale oscillation but if you could use these to mount streetlights it sounds like in windy areas they should provide enough power to run the lights for free.
  • Threat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16, 2015 @05:08PM (#49707227)

    This is a Spanish company.
    As everybody knows, the main danger for traditional wind turbines in Spain is a crazy luddite riding his horse.
    He is usually followed by a small, fat man on a donkey.

    Hence the motivation for building wind turbine without blades.

  • Star Trek, of course. http://en.memory-alpha.org/wik... [memory-alpha.org]
  • Newsreel footage of the disaster is well worth watching, if you haven't; you can easily find it on youtube. In fact, it was so impressive at the time that it was used as a cliffhanger in Atom Man vs. Superman, [wikipedia.org] the second (and last) movie serial Columbia made about Superman.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @06:04PM (#49707529)

    Has anyone heard of these? They built a demonstration model in Chaska.

    It basically looks like an enclosed tower with an opening at the top and a "tail" at the bottom. The web page says it tunnels moving air and utilizes the venturi effect to increase the wind velocity. The actual turbine is enclosed at the end of the "tail".

    It claims to have a number of advantages -- extremely low cut-in speed (2 mph), no cut out speed, lower maintenance costs, multiple turbines per tower possible, and no external moving parts.

    The web site says there are several projects commissioned, albeit somewhat smaller (200-400KW).

    It looks interesting and since I've actually seen a full-size unit (the size of maybe a small water tower) I know it's not complete BS. It does kind of set off my bullshit meter a little, though, simply because if the design concept was so good I wouldn't every single wind generator look the same.

    • This Sheerwind Invelox sets off my BS meter as well. The Venturi effect (a special case of the Bernoulli principle) won't magically let you harvest more energy then what was already in the airflow. In a Venturi device, flow velocity increases temporarily in exchange for a pressure drop (to less than atmospheric pressuee). Downstream, the velocity lowers and the kinetic energy exchanged back into pressure, reaching atmospheric pressure. If you were able to harvest the kinetic energy, you would end up with a

    • "No cut out speed" is bullshit. "Will survive all earth storms since recorded history" is more logical, although I wouldn't guess it would pass that bar. Supersonic storms will kill it.

  • Is cool.
    I know I'm going to get disappointed though when somebody has something to complain about it.
  • Advantages? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 )

    So they're not half as efficient as turbines, meaning you need more than twice as many of them to produce the same power, but they "should" be quite a bit cheaper than turbines due to their simplicity. At best it sounds like they're a draw with current methods, at worst they're a step back. About the only real advantage seems to be that they may prevent the few birds/bats kills by turbines from taking place and may help quell SOME of the NIMBY complaints (noise, blade shadows).

    • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

      How many more can you fit in the same footprint as a traditional windmill, though? And could one build them at different heights to take advantage of more vertical windspace? And then could you hook them up to a keyboard and have some mad scientist play them like a pipe organ?

    • Re:Advantages? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Saturday May 16, 2015 @07:25PM (#49707873)

      No. TFA states the new turbines cost half as much and can be spaced twice as dense as conventional blade style turbines. They capture 30% less energy than a conventional turbine, but considering you can put 2 in the same spot for roughly the same price as just one conventional turbine, you should get more energy for the same cost and land space.

      In theory, lower total cost of ownership as well given the lack of moving parts to replace... but who knows what real-world issues the structure may see. Maybe the materials don't hold up as well as thought under heat, light, and vibration and will require maintenance or degrade their performance over time.

    • by Dinjay ( 571355 )

      I am not convinced by the wind turbine syndrome [wikipedia.org] but some are and they seem have dug their heels in. If the only two options are putting one of these in or not putting in any wind turbines at all due to community resistance, then their advantage is quite significant.

  • Oh, please, yes. I really hope this design turns out to work well. I'd love to have a wind energy mechanism that puts an end to the "kills birds" and "strobe light" arguments against wind turbines. I imagine that it's probably quieter, too.

  • Or, in this case, you had me at "Giant Rolled Joint'. Count me in.
  • I know very little about windmills so this may sound naive, but it seems to me that this might be the sort of thing you could put in your backyard: it's tall, but with a fairly small footprint. On the other hand, if it's vibrating all the time it will create sound waves: I wonder how loud it gets?

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev

Working...