New wind harvesting invention to bring cities to life

April 9, 2013
Artist’s impression of how the invention could be installed on city buildings.

Is this what the cities of the future will look like? Towering skyscrapers fitted with softly rotating panelled windows that harness wind energy and convert it into electricity? It is if Professor Farzad Safaei has anything to do with it.

Professor Safaei, Director of UOW's ICT Research Institute, and his team, have invented a new kind of wind turbine with big possibilities. Its unique design means it can be installed on the sides or tops of skyscrapers and large . It it is also quieter, cheaper to run and safer than current – it doesn't have large rotating blades that might be dangerous for humans or birds.

PowerWINDows is the culmination of four years of work and UOW has just signed an initial two-year deal with one of Australia's leading engineering companies, Birdon, to build a commercial viable prototype to enable more extensive testing and evaluation in the hope that the product may one day be brought into production.

Professor Safaei says he started this line of research to overcome some of the key shortcomings of current wind turbine technology, in particular, to enable modular manufacturing, easier transportation and installation, and reduce noise, as well as land usage footprint.

PowerWINDows can be used in both wind farms and metropolitan areas.

"I wanted to create a wind turbine that better integrated with living environments", he says, adding that the "looks like a window with a sparse venetian blind – the blades move vertically up and down."

He says the invention can be easily blended into existing environments because of its window-like form, which can be painted to match buildings.

Director of Innovation & Commercialisation Research at UOW Elizabeth Eastland says in order to make the switch to renewable technologies, which will help cut greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impact of fossil fuels shortages, we need to come up with innovative, but workable solutions.

"PowerWINDows has the potential to help us harvest in a much more effective way," she says.

"We are pleased to have Birdon working with us to advance this technology."

Group General Manager of Birdon, Ian Ramsay, says he looks forward to working with UOW on this nationally important project.

"We see this is an opportunity to apply our engineering expertise in the green energy area, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, whilst bringing to market a strong and viable commercial solution for the renewable energy sector."

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1.7 / 5 (6) Apr 09, 2013
Stop that nonsense instead of wind! With total power available to circulate air of about 150 GW, Germany already has 40 GW of installed wind power. Now stop circulation even in cities, just to distrupt the grid with zero AGW effect at best. What's the point? To increase polution and overheating in congested cities, always in need of fresh air? To suffocate people for the benefit of this retarded wind nonsense?
5 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2013
Praos, are you actually suggesting that wind turbines (of any design) are able to stop the movement of air across the surface of the earth?
This is an interesting concept similar to wave energy harvesting. Dont shoot the guy because of an interesting idea.
At our current level of grid technology, commercial wind power can provide 20% maximum to the overall electrical consumption in the US = 10-25 Nuclear or Coal power plants
Commercial Turbines operate at relatively high and consistent wind speeds which is why they are on hilltops or out in the middle of nowhere in a field.
4 / 5 (2) Apr 09, 2013
One more point! :) Just a pet peeve of mine, bird strikes on commercial sized turbines are miniscule, most birds seem to stay away, but this design is quite unproven and could be very detrimental to birds flying into them as they so often fly into buildings. Of course if the device stopped the wind altogether, the birds would fall out of the sky right??
not rated yet Apr 09, 2013
Poor Praos. He seems to be so concerned about air quaility but seems to have no intreest in stopping the pollution of it.

"Stop that nonsense" - PraosTard

Perhaps he is mentally ill.

It is a shame the wind speed in my area is too low to make installing a ridge vent turbine on my home impractical.

It isn't rocket science.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2013
it doesn't have large rotating blades that might be dangerous for humans or birds.

Forget the birds.

Existing pets already kill more birds than all the wind turbines the world would ever need combined.

I wish this stupid line would get banned from wind turbine related articles. It makes the authors look stupid too.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 09, 2013
green-screens and mirrors : digitized delusion : fat-hat & no-cattle
1 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2013
this is utter nonsense. skyskrapers are built for people not for wind. dual purpose designs are just the worst of both and destined for failure.

i work in a skyscraper. are you aware what kinds of gusty winds a dedicated wind tower must deal with while moving? or a dedicated office tower while static?
there may be a way to harvest wind economically in cities, but it is certainly not this design.
this idea is complete and utter stupidity produced by someone living in the fanatasy land of wind power, not the realistic land of wind power, let alone the realistic land of urban planning.

the smart grid is there so we can build out massive centralized wind farms, solar farms, use fossicl fuels as needed and bootstrap additional power sources.

the foolishness above only suckers in the dumb.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 10, 2013

Are you being sarcastic?

You could say that for existing tall buildings anyway.

An Earthquake, Tornado, or a bit less likely a hurricane, could collapse a tall building and kill several thousand people instantly.

Not that I'm saying this is a great model for wind power, but the article says nothing useful for theory crafting anyway. There isn't even a link to a paper or a detail.
not rated yet Apr 10, 2013
I'd be curious to know of the expected maintenance costs. I guess we'll find out more following the operation of this prototype with Birdon.
Regarding the prospect for significantly slowing down air circulation in urban environments, I'm skeptical. Far before that happens, it will become uneconomical to install more panels to extract the remainder of wind energy.

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