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.
Solar energy is free and plentiful everywhere on the planet, the only problem is that it’s only available half of the day. In order to put solar energy to good use, we need an efficient way of storing it, however batteries are expensive, toxic, have limited life spans, they drain over time.
Using the principle of exploiting the force of gravity, it is in theory possible to store vast amounts of surplus energy, relatively cheap, environmentally friendly, maintenance free, totally safe and without disrupting landscape or taking up horizontal space.
There is a series of hollow vertical underground cylindrical tubes, each of them containing a heavy weight which hangs inside the tube attached to a high strength cable.
Above the ground, each wire is spooled up and attached to its own coil. The coils are mounted along a central support axis which carries all the weight. Inside the support axis, there are two transmission axis, one for the charger and one for the generator.
When energy is in surplus, the distributor routes it to the charger (an electric engine). The charger uses the electric energy it receives to spin its transmission axis, thus spinning all coils attached to that axis, and lifting their weights up to maximum height.
When a weight is at maximum height, its coil will automatically switch from the charger axis to the generator axis.
When energy is needed, the allocator switches off the break on the generator axis, thus causing the coils to unwind and spin the axis, powering the generator and creating electricity.
Infographic and text via Gravity Battery Concept.
Video and top image via MrTeslonian on YouTube.