Researchers team up with architects to create bladeless wind electricity generator

Apr 03, 2013 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org) —Faculty members at Delft University in the Netherlands have teamed up with architectural firm Mecanoo to develop a new way to generate electricity using wind energy. The result is the Electrostatic WInd-energy CONvertor, (EWICON)—a windmill with no moving mechanical parts. Its creators say that it makes no noise, won't break down or cast a shadow and it won't cause bird deaths—all problems associated with traditional wind turbines.

Traditional take advantage of moving air to convert into to create electricity. This new windmill uses a different process altogether. It looks rather like a giant tennis racket with an insulated base instead of a hand grip. It takes advantage of wind moving over the inner grid—positively charged are carried (via spraying) away from the small inner tube mesh, leaving negatively charged particles behind. That causes a decrease in the voltage of the system and allows for electricity to be captured. The design is simple enough that the frame can be any shape desired and allows for windmills of virtually any size, though the researchers acknowledge that a certain size must be used to cause the creation of more electricity than is used to pump the water.

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Deriving electricity from wind has met with some resistance in some parts of the world—to be of real use, turbines must be very large, and whole farms of them constructed. Many consider such farms to be an eyesore and say the noise they create causes health problems. The EWICON in contrast, is silent and some suggest it actually looks like a piece of art. Traditional wind turbines also require a lot of maintenance and are frequently damaged by or lightning. Because the EWICON has no moving parts, it should be less prone to damage from wind, though it would seem to be just as likely to suffer damage from lightning.

The researchers have not yet divulged just yet how efficient the EWICON is, nor whether the new kind of windmill would have to be deployed in vast farms to make them cost effective. Currently the only one built so far is a small prototype that sits in front of the EWI faculty building in the Mekelpark powering a big neon sign.

Explore further: Cook farm waste into energy

More information: www.ewi.tudelft.nl/en/current/ewicon/
www.mecanoo.nl/Default.aspx?ta… ailId=847&pcode=A498

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User comments : 24

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QuixoteJ
2.4 / 5 (8) Apr 03, 2013
Pretty cool idea, but I'm tempted to say it doesn't actually harvest wind energy. Need to see more (can't watch the video yet).
Lurker2358
2.2 / 5 (10) Apr 03, 2013
Many consider such farms to be an eyesore and say the noise they create causes health problems


Why do I live in a generation of complete fools?!

===

What the deceivers haven't told you is that you WILL need a large number of them, and they already know that, due to thermodynamic limits. It will be about the same size ande the same number of them.

The catch? This doesn't work without an unlimited supply of water to spray, and it will all go to waste and run off just to capture energy which could already be captured in a far cleaner manner with existing turbines.
Howard_Vickridge
4 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2013
This looks very promising. An impressive, imaginative approach. Even if it's not efficient right now, the idea might be developed to the point where it is a viable alternative. I guess a reliable and sustainable water supply could limit its application in arid climates though.
antialias_physorg
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2013
Pretty cool idea,

Agreed. Does require access to a supply of water, though, which is a pretty big downside.
I'm willing to bet that the efficiency isn't as good as traditional windmills.

Another approach I've recently seen is to construct a dish instead of big blades and funnel the wind to a very small set of blades - greatly reducing noise and removing the intermittent shadowing effect (at the expense of a constant shadowing effect). Downside is that it's pretty dangerous during high wind (which may be alleviated by making the dish composed of fins that can be opened).
seilgu
5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
To form water droplets requires energy, including the surface area energy (from surface tensions). If you create lots of water droplets, you increase the surface area by many orders, that would reduce the efficiency a lot. Without the second electrode, it becomes less than impossible to recover that part of the energy. Also, once in a while you have to wash the electrodes because if the water source is not pure, nonvolatile residue (like salt) will accumulate on the electrode, rendering it ineffective.
seilgu
not rated yet Apr 03, 2013
Though if you add salt to the electrode intentionally, it might be able to capture moisture from the air itself.
Tektrix
3.5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
The Kelvin (as in Lord Kelvin) water dropper writ large.
http://en.wikiped..._dropper
QuixoteJ
1 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
I'm still wondering (because I can't see the video) about the relationship between the energy in the wind (which is actually solar) and the energy you get from the thing.

Is it really: [mechanical wind energy] ---> [ionization potential difference]? Or is there some other energy coming into the system to create the ionization (like some energy in the water itself already)? Does it work with 1 deg C water, etc?
RobL
1.5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
Why use wind to transport water droplets when there is gravity, and water pressure?
Tektrix
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
Why use wind to transport water droplets when there is gravity, and water pressure?


A lot of the energy is wasted as heat from pumping and ballistic losses. This is actually a problem no matter what system you use to spray water.
italba
1 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
... Why do I live in a generation of complete fools?!
...
The catch? This doesn't work without an unlimited supply of water to spray...


So, you need to be a complete fool to put those generators in open ocean?
alq131
2 / 5 (1) Apr 03, 2013

won't break down or cast a shadow

Wow! now THOSE are impressive capabilities. Must use transparent or metamaterials to prevent shadows, and some sort of never clogging, infinite source water supply...
italba
1 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2013
One more genius. Please read my previous post.
ValeriaT
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2013
Please read my previous post.
But why? We're at PhysOrg. We don't read any previous posts here..
hangman04
1 / 5 (2) Apr 03, 2013
this is more a marketing presentation ( we need cash for a niche research) where they empathize only on the potential benefits leaving aside all problems that this system may bring....
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
So why havent engineers or scientists thought of this before? I am guessing that they did, and rejected it. Then along comes an architect who proposes it and draws nice renderings of it for posting on his website.

It still doesnt work but it sounds trendy and looks quite nice. And all his AIA buddies pat him on the back and vote to give him little plaques for his reception room walls.
Telekinetic
3.4 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2013
So why havent engineers or scientists thought of this before? I am guessing that they did, and rejected it. Then along comes an architect who proposes it and draws nice renderings of it for posting on his website.

It still doesnt work but it sounds trendy and looks quite nice. And all his AIA buddies pat him on the back and vote to give him little plaques for his reception room walls.

Of course it's been proposed before, dummy, you just have to quit your yapping and dig it up-
http://en.wikiped...enerator
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (4) Apr 03, 2013
So why havent engineers or scientists thought of this before? I am guessing that they did, and rejected it. Then along comes an architect who proposes it and draws nice renderings of it for posting on his website.

It still doesnt work but it sounds trendy and looks quite nice. And all his AIA buddies pat him on the back and vote to give him little plaques for his reception room walls.

Of course it's been proposed before, dummy, you just have to quit your yapping and dig it up-
http://en.wikiped...enerator
So then... I was right. Thanks.
http://www.halfba...0Turbine

Jimee
not rated yet Apr 03, 2013
In the long since defunct magazine, Science Digest, a very similar apparatus was discussed, but on a vastly larger scale. The author hypothesized that ten installations of ten square miles around the country, with substantially larger towers and cross piping could develop enough power to serve the US. They used solar power and evaporation to supply the water to the towers, with cables laid parallel for the ionized droplets to energize. around 198?
mark_petursson
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2013
This thing is going to turn into one giant icicle in the winter up here in Canada... hahahaha
ScooterG
2.4 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2013
Also, once in a while you have to wash the electrodes because if the water source is not pure, nonvolatile residue (like salt) will accumulate on the electrode, rendering it ineffective.


That's the very first thing I thought of - a mental image of a salt-encrusted evaporative cooler.
Tri-ring
4 / 5 (1) Apr 04, 2013
It doesn't need to be droplets just ionized moisture will do. If you construct it on the ocean you wouldn't need the pumps and the salt would already be mixed within the water.
packrat
2 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2013
The Kelvin (as in Lord Kelvin) water dropper writ large.
http://en.wikiped..._dropper


I was thinking the same thing. Very old tech just "rediscovered" again....
italba
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2013
I've found the original research in the university of Delft repository, http://repository...1210.pdf .
It was written in 2008 (!) and, for what I understand, the maximum efficiency they could obtain was below 1%.

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