Wind turbines are becoming increasingly important as a contributor to carbonless energy generation, but they have some downsides. Notably, they involve moving parts which complicates maintenance and can carve up passing flying fowl like a ginzu chef. Not cool.
A startup in Spain called Vortex has recently come up with a new design for [wind] turbines. The bladeless turbines are massive poles jutting out of the ground. Because they’re thinner than a regular wind turbine and have no blades, more of them can fit into a space, meaning more electricity can be generated while taking up less real estate.
How do they work? Simple. They jiggle. Seriously.
[The] jiggle motion is based on a branch of science called aeroelasticity.
Aeroelasticity is the study of how elastic things move when exposed to constant energy — like how a bungie cord might fare in a tornado.
A good example of aeroelasticity-gone-wild happened in 1940 at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington state, when it was blasted with winds up to 40 mph. The suspension cables absorbed the impact but made the bridge vibrate and undulate, causing a positive feedback loop known as an aeroelastic flutter, where each vibration made the next vibration even worse.