In the wind energy industry, the conventional design for wind turbines (the ones that look like giant propellers) is the tried and true one, but inventors haven't stopped trying to build a better or more efficient way to harvest the wind's energy.
A new design for a wind harvester, from a team at the University of Wollongong, is said to be not only quieter and cheaper to run, but to be able to be integrated into city buildings and skyscrapers.
The design, dubbed PowerWINDows, comes from a team led by Professor Farzad Safaei (Director of UOW’s ICT Research Institute), and will be built into a prototype by an engineering firm so that further testing can take place, and may eventually be built into a commercially viable version for production.
Safaei stated that he began his research on this project in order to overcome what he sees as weaknesses in current wind energy technology. His aims were to enable modular manufacturing, to make wind harvesters easier to install and transport, and to reduce both the physical footprint of installations as well as amount of noise from them.
"I wanted to create a wind turbine that better integrated with living environments." - Safaei
While there aren't many details on how the PowerWINDows system works, UOW says that the design uses "softly rotating paneled windows" that resemble venetian blinds, with the blades moving vertically to produce electricity. According to Safaei, this design will blend in better in urban environments, as the window-like forms can be painted to match the surrounding buildings.
The design is the result of four years of work by the team, and with any luck, their new two-year contract with Birdon, a leading Australian engineering firm, will bear fruit in the form of a fully functional model that can be used for further evaluation and design improvements.