Designers Create 'Omnidirectional' Wind Turbine
To take the power of traditional wind turbines, which function only with unidirectional wind, to the next level, Lancaster University students Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani have developed O-Wind, an omnidirectional wind turbine that works in large urban centers.
Tall buildings found in cities contribute to chaotic wind patterns. The 25-centimeter-wide prototype O-Wind turbine seizes this opportunity, using the gusts to generate energy. Those who live in these areas can attach the turbine to their balcony or the side of the building.
Orellana told Dezeen O-Wind would let people in apartments generate their own electricity, going on to note that he hopes the project would increase turbine affordability and availability across the world.
"Cities are windy places but we are currently not harnessing this resource," he said. "Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger own role in conserving our planet."
The current prototype has vents cut into the surface that allow for the wind to be captured from all directions, which spins a sphere similar to the way a globe is spun. This activity powers a generator, the energy from which can be put into the grid or used directly.
The inspiration for the project started with the idea to better NASA's 2004 Mars Tumbleweed Rover, which could only work with unidirectional winds. Harry Hoster, director of Energy Lancaster at Lancaster University, noted that when the students approached his team about testing facilities, he thought the design would be plain.
"When they humbly showed their video and their prototype, however, we were, excuse the pun, blown away," he said.
The O-Wind was chosen as the winner of the U.K. division of the James Dyson Award 2018, which celebrates inventions from engineering and design graduates around the world. Inventor and vacuum mogul James Dyson will choose the winner of the international competition over the next few weeks.
Future plans may include using the O-Wind to generate energy from waves, as water behaves similarly to wind. For that to be viable, however, more research must be done.