Could a new revolution in wind-turbines be on its way? A team from Australia's University of Wollongong (UOW) have collaborated with leading marine engineering firm Birdon Pty Ltd, to develop PowerWINDows - a new type of wind-to-energy converter that could potentially be appearing on skyscrapers near you soon.
Read more about this new idea after the break...
It seems like the natural thing to do, exploiting the height and shape of energy-consuming high-rises by installing wind-turbines to off-set power needs. However, past experience has shown that it's not all that easy. Aside from generating power, turbines also generate noise, vibration and turbulence, which means they are ideally located in the countryside, or off-shore, miles away from civilization
London's Strata Tower was hailed as being the first building to incorporate traditional wind-turbines structually. Upon completion it was hoped that these would provide up to 8% of the buildings energy costs. However, the residents who had shelled out top-dollar for the penthouse apartments beneath the turbines weren't too happy with the ruckus above and now the turbines spend most of their time lying idle.
To negate this problem, Professor Farzad Safaei has spent four-years developing PowerWINDows, a modular wind-turbine, which keeps noise vibration and operating costs to a minimum. His invention is an array of small panels arranged in a grid. Each panel is a miniature turbine in itself, which rotates with the direction of the wind, unlike traditional turbines which run perpendicular to it. By changing the direction of rotation, the wind the panels generate less noise and whip up less turbulence, they also place less stress on the supporting structure. The result is a energy harvester which can be retrofitted onto tall buildings in a modular nature that allows the array to expand incrementally as is needed.
By collaborating with Birdon the university hopes to develop the application further, paving the way for a future where people and wind-turbines can live together in harmony.