Monday, July 29, 2013

Inspiring Technology: Windstalks, Saphonians, Windbelts

A wind farm composed of numerous three-blade generators.
A traditional wind farm

Over the next four weeks the Inspiring Technology posts are going to tackle new technologies that are being used to revolutionize the energy industry. These designs not only make current energy sources more efficient, but they also take energy from some of the most unlikely places.

In today's post, I am going to show you three new ideas that are changing the way wind energy is being collected. From updating the current turbine to using totally different methods altogether, these new generators are inspiring both in their functionality and beauty.


A farm of over 1200 windstalks that generate electricity from bending in the wind
Windstalk farm. Image courtesy of Atelier DNA.

A competition was held earlier this year in Abu Dhabi to find a design of a renewable energy generator that was clean, quiet, efficient, and visually appealing. The design shown above took second place, but it is so revolutionary that is has since become renown as a new frontier in wind technology.

Diagram shows how energy is transfered from the stalk into a generator at the base.
Cross sections of a Windstalk. Image courtesy of Atelier DNA.

The system, designed by Atelier DNA,  contains over 1200 stalks made of piezoelectric disks with electrodes in between, when the wind blows, the stalks bend, and the resulting compression of the disks generates electricity. While the design isn't quite as efficient as a regular turbine, its narrow shape allows for a turbine farm of this type to be packed much more closely together. This makes it ideal for use in cities and parks.

The design is mostly conceptual at the moment, but ADNA hopes to have tests running by the end of the year.

For more information on the Windstalk design click here

Saphonian Generator

This Saphonian Generator uses the pressure of the wind to push pistons and generate electricity
Prototype of the Saphonian. Image courtesy of Gizmag.

Another company, Saphon Energy, believes that the pressure of wind alone is enough to generate energy, has created a new generator, the Saphonian. The design looks like a combination of a satellite dish and a weather vane.

When wind blows into the generator, it causes it to wobble in a circular motion, compressing pistons and generating energy. Multiple prototypes have been released in the past year, and most of them have proven to be 80% efficient, which is much higher than the 30% efficiency seen in traditional turbines. The design is also small, quiet, and safe for birds.

One of the most amazing aspects of the Saphonian is that is goes past the Betz limit, a theoretical line that determines the maximum efficiency of traditional wind turbines.

For more information on the Saphonian Generator, click here

Wind Belt

The smallest model of windbelt made by Humdinger.
microBelt, a wind belt style generator. Image courtesy of Humdinger.

Another design that has come to prominence over the last few years is the wind belt. Unlike other generators featured in this article the Wind Belt, a generator that looks a lot like a harp string, is not meant for commercial use but rather as a personal generator. It was originally designed to be used in third world countries such as Haiti, where energy is sparse and costly.

The design, which was first created by MIT student Shawn Frayne and revealed in 2007, generates energy when the wind blows across a small cord. This cord then vibrates rapidly, moving magnets at both ends up and down inside metal coils, generating electricity. The design is quiet and best of all it is very small, with the smallest models fitting into the palm of your hand.

There are currently three designs being tested and manufactured by Humdinger, the company started by Shawn Frayne, the microBelt, the Windcell, and an experimental 10-meter long belt. The microBelt can fit into the palm of your hand and is powerful enough to recharge cellphones and power many battery-powered devices. The Windcell is a meter long wind belt that can be used to power small homes or add supplemental power to other buildings and is currently installed in many buildings in Hong Kong.

To see and interview and demonstration with Shawn Frayne click here

For more information on the Wind Belt click here

The Future of Wind Technology

Wind power has always been pictured as large, loud, and expensive wind turbines scattered across a large area. However, these innovations have proven that it doesn't. Future wind generators can be small, quiet, safe, inexpensive, and efficient. If you have any questions or comments regarding this weeks Inspiring Technology post, please comment below and share this post with your friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...