Vortex, founded in Spain by three men whose co-founder scientist David Yáñez, has developed a wind power generator without a turbine with wing blades. The Vortex generator uses vorticity, a word formed from the activity potential of a vortex.

Vortex Generator Experimental Version. Click image for the largest view.

Vortex Generator Experimental Version. Click image for the largest view.

A vortex can be seen where water twists around going down a drain, in the air circulation of a tornado or hurricane and even more massively, in atmosphere circulation in high and low pressure zones. A vortex can be a powerful thing, and they are incredibly easy to set up, holding a ready supply of kinetic energy.

Another co founder David Suriol explained, “These eddies are a problem that usually engineers try to avoid at all costs because they could damage buildings. We deliberately seek and optimize.”

The company uses an example of vorticity that many of us have already witnessed, the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that came apart three months after it opened in 1940. Here is a Youtube video from a film that was made as the bridge undulated, wavered and ultimately shows the energy of vortex shedding twisting the bridge deck until it catastrophically failed.

Vortex engineers have driven right into the vorticity, using the aerodynamic instabilities to capitalize on the oscillation and therefore capture the energy. The column seen in the photo above is designed to oscillate in the wind. The column is a power generator that has no moving parts which come into contact with each other. Its built as a semi-rigid fiberglass cylinder. The power generator is a system of magnetic coupling devices.

For now the Vortex researchers are working on electromagnetic induction to generate electricity. But for the future the researchers are working on piezoelectricity.

The idea isn’t perfect or even a direct comparison to a wind turbine. Operating in the same conditions, a Vortex generator “would produce about 30% less power than a traditional bladed turbine.” How they came up with that remains to be explained.

The Vortex generator column does offer some elegant solutions to existing problems. As a column the generator need not pivot to head the blades into the wind, greatly simplifying engineering and construction. Nothing swings about making the throp-wop sound that drives many living nearby nuts, and no edges are moving unnaturally slap killing birds and bats.

Third co-founder David Suriol Puigvert said the costs of a Votex system are dramatically lower than traditional wind turbines. The firm projects maintenance costs that are 80% below a traditional wind turbine with manufacturing costs that are 53% lower. The lower maintenance & manufacturing costs calculate to a much lower estimated cost per kilowatt.

The co-founders started investigating large generating devices and the field remains a longer-term goal. For now a shorter range goal is a device of 4kW. Vortex said that would be about 13 meters tall (40’) and only weigh about 220lbs. The possibilities of that are very intriguing. Four thousand watts (a little more than 33 amps at 120 volts) is a good start for a self powered home.

So far funding has come from a Repsol Foundation Grant, a loan from the Spanish Government and Spanish venture capitalists called the Spanish Angels. Vortex has relocated to Boston where its working with Harvard University, SunEdison, IDEO and is working with venture capitalists for its next round of Series A funding.

With a slick website, lots of promise and considerable coverage in Spain and now the U.S. they will launch a crowdfunding campaign on June 1st.

Keep in mind that the electromagnetic induction system to be used isn’t well explained or described such as if needing specialized parts or parts come off the shelf. More info is needed about high winds and start up wind speeds and a wealth of information that establish full investment or purchase credibility. Nor are there any peer review papers to see.

If looks like a great idea, beautiful even. Now if the team can get to commercial scale with a truly killer price and return on investment with a design that won’t drive the insurance premiums out of sight . . .


1 Comment so far

  1. MattMusson on May 12, 2015 7:54 AM

    Reminds me of the WindBand generators created by Hundingerwind.com

    Check out their website for great explanation of the effect. They used to sell wonderful Science Fair kits.


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