Two MSc students attending Lancaster University, Nicolas Orellana (36) and Yaseen Noorani (24), have won a James Dyson award for a new wind turbine design that could be effective in urban environments.
While wind turbines have evolved in terms of efficiency, economies of scales, and the specialized lubricants available from Mobil distributors, most modern wind turbines still resemble the first multi-megawatt wind turbine that was built by students and teachers at the Tvind school in Denmark. While this tried-and-tested design works well in rural and offshore settings, the unpredictable winds in city environments makes it unsuitable.
The new design requires no steering, yet it benefits from vertical winds in addition to horizontal one. The turbine has a simple 25cm spherical design featuring geometric vents that, even in the windiest conditions, catch wind from whatever direction. A gear system then drives a generator to produce electricity.
The students hope the design will ultimately be used in cities to generate energy, either for direct consumption or for feeding into the grid. It could, for example, be sited on the sides of buildings or balconies where winds are strongest.
Lancaster University’s director of energy, Professor Harry Hoster, said about the design:
“Only holding it in your hands and playing with it gives you a chance to understand what their new device actually does and how, if things go right, its ability to capture any random breezes will take urban energy harvesting to another level.”