BizTech: Vortex Bladeless

84696d15ccf0f747e945f4c6b9366271Load Shedding had hit my home so I was sitting at terrace while contemplating a suitable topic for the next entry of BizTech. Multiple tabs ranging from music to history were open on my laptop but it was twitter which had my unflinching attention as reading some random rants on twitter appeared to be the most apt thing to do while I waited for my bros from WAPDA to grow some sympathy for me. And suddenly there came a tweet which was way too tempting to ignore. After all you don’t hear about rotor free wind turbines every day.

Yes, it seemed way too incredulous to be true so I followed that story up and it’s the same story which makes a cut into this week’s BizTech.

So all science students out there must have, at some point, heard or studied about “vortex” and if by any chance you haven’t than its time to google this term out (By the way I hope you enjoyed your nap in your Fluid Mechanics classes).

logoA Spanish startup Vortex Bladeless has come up with this ingenious idea of using rotor free wind turbines for energy production by harnessing the vibration or oscillation of a cylinder. The cylinders are designed in a way that they are fixed in the ground and vibrate when air is whipped around them. These cylindrical sticks are made using exactly the same phenomenon which architects prevent from happening in the buildings.

When wind passes one of the cylindrical turbines, it shears off the downwind side of the cylinder in a spinning whirlpool or vortex. That vortex then exerts force on the cylinder, causing it to vibrate. The kinetic energy of the oscillating cylinder is converted to electricity through a linear generator similar to those used to harness wave energy.

In 1940, a bridge named Tacoma Narrows collapsed in Washington and since then it has been taught as a text book engineering failure case where excessive vibrations by the spinning motion of wind caused a huge disaster. David Yanez, the co-founder of this startup, read about the demise of this bridge as well but he came upon to a different conclusion as compared to a lot many other students. He concluded that vorticity was a very good way to transferring energy from fluid to the structures and this is how he came upon this idea of building rotor free wind turbines.

vortex-600x415For ages, renewable energy industry, has been fighting a war with conventional energy sector and there has never been a time more productive and affirmative for them as present. Renewable energy industry is booming, at least in western countries, and is continuously looking for further minimizing the carbon print and increasing the cost efficiency.

Vortex Bladeless claims that’s they can produce electrical energy at 40% less cost than conventional wind turbines which mind you is already cheaper than conventional sources of energy. This product occupies less area which means more energy can be produced from an energy park of bladeless than an energy park of same area of conventional wind turbines.

A conventional wind turbine converts 80-90% of kinetic energy of its spinning tower into electricity but our linear generator here has an efficiency of 70% which can be counted as one of its drawback but Mr Yanez claims that significant reductions in manufacturing and maintenance costs will outweigh the losses as it saves 53% in manufacturing costs and 51% in operating costs compared to conventional wind turbines.

This startup is still in its nascent stages and company will definitely have to address a number of issues before it actually starts producing commercially but the idea is certainly innovative and very much viable. I would like to hear what you people think about this startup and what possible challenges could the company face. If any one of you wants to know more about this startup then here is the link to their website


By Muhammad Bilal Anjum


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