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Wind energy has become increasingly popular now that we have the technology to efficiently harvest electricity from wind power. Wind energy is a valuable energy resource that is renewable and reduces our dependency on non-renewable energy resources like fossil fuels. This is very crucial as there is an increasing trend from non-renewable energy resources towards renewable energy resources. Wind power has been a huge part of facilitating this trend.
Just like other renewable resources, wind energy can infinitely be used without fear of it running out. It is quite environment-friendly. Wind turbines are used to generate electricity from wind. The wind turns turbines linked to an alternator and finally a generator which coverts that mechanical energy from turbines into electricity.
You should also read how wind turbines generate electricity with respective components.
Since the inception of wind energy and the usage of wind turbines to make electricity, we have used wind turbines with blades that rotate once wind passes through them. Recent development in this sector has led to development of bladeless wind turbines.
Vortex bladeless is a company that has started developing wind turbines without use of blades, gears and shafts. The turbines in ‘Vortex Bladeless Turbines’ is actually a misnomer because vortex bladeless doesn’t rotate, but for simplicity they are called bladeless turbines.
The design and principle of vortex bladeless is based on the phenomena of aeroelastic resistances that harness the energy of Von Karman’s vortexes. This process is called vortex shedding. This allows the device to be able to oscillate at minimum wind speed without lubricants. Ultimately, this allows generation of electricity to occur more efficiently through an alternator system.
Structure and Design of Bladeless Wind Turbines
The cylinder on the outside is designed to be rigid and vibrate while being anchored to the bottom rod. The apex of the cylinder is unconstrained which allows it to oscillate at maximum amplitude. The structure is built using resins that are reinforced with carbon or glass fiber. These materials are similar to the ones used in conventional wind turbine blades as well.
The rod’s top supports the entire mass while the bottom of the rod is anchored to the ground. It is built from carbon-reinforced polymer which provides it with excellent fatigue-resistance and minimal energy losses into the surrounding during its oscillation. The design of these bladeless turbines is very unique and different from traditional wind turbines. Instead of tower, nacelle or blades; the device only consists of a mast made of lightweight material over a base. This avoids digging and building a deeper foundation or utilizing more raw materials.
How do Bladeless wind Turbines work?
The bladeless wind turbines capture energy from the wind sing resonance (shake to generate energy). This is produced through the aerodynamic effect termed as vortex shedding. The wind passes through a blunt body, and the flow is modified and can generate a cyclic pattern of vortices. Once the frequency of these forces is similar or near to the structural frequency of the body, the body will then oscillate (vibrate in a specific manner) and enter into resonance with the wind. This is referred to as Vortex-Induced Vibration (VIV).
The VIV phenomena are used in architecture, aeronautics engineering and it’s potential is carefully utilized in these turbines to capture energy.
The geometry of the mast is designed in such a way to achieve maximum performance at average wind velocities. It is highly adaptive to the change in wind direction and turbulent airflows commonly seen in urban areas.
The disturbance of the downstream wind current is why we may need to install regular wind turbines far away from each other; this isn’t the case for these bladeless wind turbines as the “wake effect” is avoided. The devices work much better when close together and in coherence with each other.
The device generates electricity through an alternator system, consisting of coil and magnets integrated in such a way that it doesn’t require any gears, shafts, or rotating parts. It can even be considered as a “small wind turbine”. The way these Vortex Bladeless turbines are using them is very innovative as it allows the reduction in maintenance and the need for greasing.
Theodore von Karman, a brilliant aeronautic, inn 1911 first went on to describe and formulate the Vortex Street effect also known as Vortex Shedding. The effect is produced through a lateral force of the wind on an object that is immersed in a laminar flow pattern. The wind flow helps to generate a cyclical pattern of vortices that may become an engineering challenge for slender structures.
The idea behind vortex turbines is that it can use these wind forces to produce energy. When the vortices of the wind match the frequency of the device, resonance is created within the structure causing oscillation so that bladeless wind turbines can harness energy from that movement as a regular generator does.
Vortex shedding effect is constantly being used in everyday lives; you may come across various examples related to this. These include phenomena such as bet’s law, turbulence regions, wind gradients, and finite bodies’ aerodynamics.
Advantages of Vortex Bladeless Turbines
These turbines are considered to be a much greener alternative for wind energy. Although more research must be conducted to further assess the carbon footprint it may have on the planet, it still seems to be very beneficial from an environmental standpoint. It is very feasible to place it over a roof or a house; it can work on-grid or even off-grid in combination with solar power.
- Environmental impact
It requires a minimal amount of raw materials, due to its design and lightweight. The vortex bladeless turbines are said to be 80% lighter than the conventional turbines. The manufacturing process is also relatively lower in complexity.
Lubricants aren’t needed due to it being bladeless as well. The maintenance of a normal wind turbine is a lot due to the raw materials and design of the structure. However, this isn’t the case when it comes to bladeless turbines. With proper calibration and anchoring, vortex bladeless turbines are also believed to be completely noiseless.
- Wildlife influence
The impact on wildlife especially on birds is much smaller with the bladeless turbines. This is due to their design that allows minimal oscillation and be less aggressive than traditional wind turbines. Hence, this won’t affect wildlife and allow for birds and bats to avoid them easily while flying.
Vortex turbines are associated with lower costs. This will allow the consumers to avail quicker return on their investment. This makes this device very competitive, not only against other renewable energy resources but conventional technologies as well.
This cost reduction occurs due to the clever design and excellent utilizing of materials. There is no need for nacelle, support structures or blades that are very costly components in a regular wind turbine. The lightweight of the structure and center of gravity closer to the ground allows for easy installation and anchoring into the ground.
- Life span
Current designs of wind turbines need to be able to withstand different types of load levels, under different wind speeds, that put high mechanical strength demands on turbine components. Multiple moving parts of conventional turbines undergo constant wear, thereby requiring lubrication and high maintenance to efficiently produce adequate electricity.
This isn’t the case with blade-less as it eliminates the use of mechanical moving elements that suffer from friction. This means they will have a better durability and life expectancy making it cheaper in the long run. The use of a carbon fiber rod allows the material to undergo very low deformation under stress, preventing the mechanical failure of the device and improving the life span.
- Generation ability
Vortex currently sweeps up only 30% of the working area of a conventional 3-blade wind turbine of similar height. As a result, this allows more bladeless turbines to be installed in the same area where there might not be many regular wind turbines installed. This provides compensation on the efficiency of the power generator.
- Adaption to conditions
Vortex bladeless turbines can rapidly adapt to the changes in wind direction and intensity regardless of the turbulence, making it ideal for urban environments.
Conventional wind turbines need to have an orientation system to assess wind flow. This isn’t the case with bladeless turbines due to its circular cross-section, allowing it to be more feasible in urban regions with turbulent area flows; even if installed closely to one another.
Differences between Conventional and Bladeless Wind Turbines
|Vortex Bladeless Wind Turbines||Conventional/Regular Wind Turbines|
|Bladeless||Consists of Blades|
|No need for nacelles, gears, or shaft||Contains nacelles, gears, and shaft|
|80% Lighter than regular turbines||Heavier than bladeless turbines|
|Doesn’t require lubrication||Requires lubrication due to wear of moving parts|
|Low maintenance||High maintenance|
|Sweeps a lesser area of wind (30% less than traditionalturbines)||Sweeps a greater area of wind- more energy efficient|
|More cost-effective||Relatively less cost-effective|
|More can be installed in a smaller area||Requires spacing; fewer turbines per unit area|
|Can withstand turbulent wind flow||Issues concerning turbulent wind flow|
|Less noise||Creates some noise upon rotation of blades|
|More environmental friendly||Less environmental friendly|
|Not Harmful to Birds||Blades Harmful to birds|