Generating clean and renewable wind energy has always been linked to fan-like wind turbines, yet these conventional wind turbines can be noisy, costly and even deadly to flying birds. But the concept of the fan-like wind turbine might become ancient history if one Spain-based company succeeds in commercially perfecting a greener, noiseless, cost-efficient, easy-to-install bladeless wind vortex.
The company’s three founders met several years ago. David J. Yáñez Villarrea, who invented the concept of the wind vortex, is now the Co-CEO of Technology at Vortex Bladeless company. Other founders include David Suriol, who is the Co-CEO of Business, and Raul Yunta, the Co-CEO of Organization.
Vortex Bladeless relies on the effect of velocity to harvest energy. The energy generating invention consists of a vertical conical cylinder fixed to an elastic rod. Through a lineal alternator’s system,which is a alternating current electrical generator, the cylinder oscillates in circular motion in the wind and converts the mechanical energy to electrical energy.
“The outer conical cylinder is designed to be substantially rigid and has the ability to vibrate, remaining anchored to the bottom rod,” the company says in an official document released to Progrss. “The top of the cylinder is unconstrained and has the maximum amplitude of the oscillation.”
In an interview with progrss, Suriol highlights that the company started seriously developing the idea of Vortex Bladeless after receiving a €288,000 fund from Repsol Foundation in September 2012.
“Since then, we have been with the R&D [research and development] of the process, and the three different technical milestones that our device has. Until now, we have developed [over a hundred] lab models in the wind tunnel and the field,” Suriol says. “The purpose of these installations had been to test the different concepts that are necessary to demonstrate and confirm.”
Suriol explains that these concepts are: the geometry of the mast to harvest as much energy as possible, the system to change the natural frequency of the mast, and finally, the generation system specifically designed by and for Vortex.
Vortex does not have any gear, bearing or moving parts and is made out of carbon and/or glass fiber, which are the same materials used to construct a traditional wind turbine. The first type of prototype Vortex Bladeless is introducing is a three-meter high, 100-watt vortex provided to those who don’t have light in their home. The company is also aiming to introduce a 13-meter high, 4-kilowatt vortex that can be installed on or off grid.
“Our mission is to build a one-megawatt [vortex]. It will be over 150 meters.” Surial explains in a crowdfunding video. “This is not our league. This is the big industry league, but we know that with this vortex we are going to change the wind industry. We are going to change the world.”
The wind vortex takes up 30% of the space a traditional wind turbine would take. At the same height of conventional wind turbines, it is able to capture 40% of the wind power in the air. To increase its ability to collect energy, Vortex Bladeless needs to be higher.
“The system does lose some electrical conversion capacity, reaching 70% [of the] yield of a conventional alternator, because the design is so focused on avoiding wear and tear,” the company says.
A six-meter Vortex Bladeless prototype has already been installed in Gotarrendura, a town in the province of Ávila in Spain.
“While technology still has a way to go, the field testing results are very positive. The demonstration team is capable of entering and operating at speeds of 1 m/sec and autotuning allows the installation to run about 84 % of the time,” the company says.
The company states that production and operation costs are cut in half when compared to a traditional wind turbine.
“The normalized cost of energy generation (LCOE) for a typical onshore facility is US $0.04/kWh (about €35/MWh), including capital costs, operation and maintenance, performance, land leases, insurance and other administrative expenses,” the company says.
The company explains that the reason their cost is notably lower than conventional and renewable energy generating sources is because of the low manufacturing cost of the vortex. The company adds that, unlike the traditional 80+ meter wind turbine, the wind vortex can be easily assembled and maintained.
Financing the Vortex Bladeless Dream
Aside from the Repsol Foundation fund, the company started a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo in June 2015 and successfully collected US $74,446. According to Suriol, the main aim of the campaign was not just to collect investments, but to promote the new invention.
“We used this [crowdfunding] tool more to “make noise” and as a PR platform than a pre-sales or financing tool,” the company executive says. “We raised more than we were looking for, and it helped, but our main source of funding has been private investment.”
Two weeks ago, Vortex closed a series A investment round. The company has also received a grant from Europe with Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, an EU research and innovation program supporting innovation in small and medium enterprises. The fund will help finalize the tests stages and the manufacturing phase.