A startup out of Spain called Vortex Bladeless, whose turbines look like stalks of asparagus poking out of the ground, is using pillars that shake back and forth from the vortices created by the movement of air around the structure to generate power.
Typically, a structure can only be optimized to oscillate at the specific frequencies caused by a certain wind speed, but Vortex says it is using magnets to adjust the turbine on the fly to get the most from whatever the wind speeds happen to be.
Once the structure starts vibrating, an alternator in the base of the device then converts the mechanical movement into electricity.
Vortex claims that energy produced by its turbines will cost around 40 percent less than energy made from today’s wind turbines and a large part of that cost reduction comes from maintenance as the Vortex doesn’t have moving parts or gears, it should last longer and won’t require periodic lubrication.
The simpler design also means that manufacturing costs are about half that of a traditional wind turbine (those massive blades are expensive).
As per Vortex, its bladeless design captures around 30 percent less energy than a regular turbine, but it’s possible to fit more of the “silent” Vortex models in the same area.
Vortex is working on its “Mini,” a 41-foot model that should be ready for commercialization in 2016, while a larger, industrial model is in the works for 2018.