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Bladeless Wind Turbine — Reality Check

The Vortex Bladeless wind turbine recently covered here on CleanTechnica and many other sites is, unfortunately, yet another example of an impractical, uncompetitive wind turbine that is getting too much hype for its extremely weak results and potential.

The Vortex Bladeless wind turbine has essentially the same problems that all micro-wind turbines have. Wind non-experts don’t seem to understand these well enough to avoid big mistakes in their coverage. So I’ll run down 8 key problems.

  1. It’s tiny, and potential energy from the wind comes from swept area.
  2. It doesn’t move through a swept area as wind turbine blades do with limited materials, so scaling to intercept more wind is a virtually linear progression of materials to swept area, unlike HAWTs. This means it has fundamental limits to scale, and while it might possibly beat a tiny wind turbine, it won’t scale to anything useful economically.
  3. The claims that they make in the video of 50% cheaper to build are based on a small prototype with no experience in manufacturing. Similar claims are made by every wind innovator, but it’s never proven true before. Serious skepticism is required.
  4. The founders have no prior experience of any sort with wind or electrical generation or fluid dynamics for that matter. They made artificial noses and small electronic stuff in a couple of R&D ventures. Red flag.
  5. Many are reporting that these devices could be put in narrow spaces next to buildings with zero apparent comprehension that this would eliminate winds that would usefully power them.
  6. The mechanical resonance mechanism that they’ve designed to maintain oscillation depends on relatively stable winds, but their target market is for turbulent small turbine areas. Uh oh.
  7. Some are suggesting that this will be relatively noiseless, but oscillating poles creak. In fact, the tonality of creaking is more piercing than the blade pass frequency swoosh of turbines. The Vortex Bladeless material doesn’t even say anything about noise… “wisely.”
  8. Oh, look, prior art. The Windstalk concept — which went nowhere — claimed to do the same thing with piezoelectrics.

So, yeah, reality check.

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