Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless is proposing a radical new way to
generate wind energy that will once again upend what you see outside your car
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. But it goes about it in an entirely different way.
Vortex, as their new wind turbine is called, is conical in shape and comes in
two types: Vortex Gran and Vortex Mini. The
turbines are conical in shape and use an aerodynamic concept called vorticity
to capture the energy. Vorticity poses challenges for architects trying to
avoid situations like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge which collapsed after being hit
by whirlpools of wind.
of using the wind to rotate a blade, the company’s pillars shake back and forth
from the vortices created by the movement of air around the structure.
Engineers look to avoid these forces when designing buildings and other
structures, but the Vortex turbine takes advantage of this phenomenon to
oscillate in the wind. Typically, a structure can only be optimized to
oscillate at the specific frequencies caused by a certain wind speed, but
Vortex says it is using magnets to adjust the turbine on the fly to get the
most from whatever the wind speeds happen to be. Once the structure starts vibrating,
an alternator in the base of the device then converts the mechanical movement
why bother switching from traditional wind turbines in the first place? Well,
Vortex claims that energy produced by its turbines will cost around 40 percent
less than energy made from wind turbines that are operating today. A large part
of that cost reduction comes from maintenance — since the Vortex doesn’t have
moving parts or gears, it should last longer and it won’t require periodic
lubrication. The simpler design also means that manufacturing costs are about
half that of a traditional wind turbine (those massive blades are expensive).
That said, Vortex tells Wired that its bladeless design captures around 30
percent less energy than a regular turbine. The company does note, however,
that it’s possible to fit more of the Vortex models in the same area. And, as a
bonus, the bladeless turbines are silent.
is working on a few different sizes; its “Mini,” a 41-foot model,
should be ready for commercialization next year, while a larger, industrial
model is in the works for 2018. If all goes according to plan, wind farms might
look quite a bit different the next time you take a cross-country road trip. (Source: