For centuries windmills have populated windy swaths of land, and in recent years wind turbines have begun popping up as well. Now, the EWICON (Electrostatic Wind Energy CONverter), a new form of wind turbine, hopes to revolutionize the field of alternative energy.
The bladeless wind turbine, which has no moving parts, and thus no mechanical function that must be powered by the wind, is still very much in the early stages of development. Currently, wind turbines create energy by converting kinetic energy into mechanical energy through the rotation of the blades, which generates power. The EWICON uses electrostatically charged water droplets that are pushed by the wind through an electric field.
The video below will help you get an idea of how it works:
In 2013 Johan Smit and Dhiradi Djairam, researchers at the Delft University of Technology, began developing the technology behind the EWICON on a small scale. Currently, the prototypes can only produce about 12.5 milliwatts, but they are predicting that in 10 years they will be able to produce up to a full megawatt.
Those involved in the project haven’t stopped at simply inventing a new way to produce sustainable energy. Instead, they have dreamed up a circular skyscraper of sorts called the Dutch Windwheel that will produce energy, provide housing and a hotel, and entertainment, all while being completely self-sustaining.
The Dutch Windwheel, which the designers are hoping will be ready for construction sometime in the 2020s, will be located in the Dutch city of Rotterdam and stand 570 feet tall. Housing will dominate the inner ring, while the outer ring will be a Ferris wheel similar to the London Eye. But it’s what’s inside the wheel that will be truly revolutionary.
Inside the Dutch Windwheel will be a steel frame with about 40 horizontal rows of insulated tubes. Each tube will have electrodes and nozzles that release positively charged water into the air. This process has been dubbed “electrospraying.” The idea is that since positive particles move toward the negative electrode, when wind is allowed to push the particle away from the negative electrode it increases the potential electrical energy, which can then be used on site in the building or collected and stored in a battery.
Another way of thinking about it from the developers themselves: “An EWICON system directly converts wind energy to electrical energy” by displacing charged droplets in the opposite direction of an electric field.
EWICON technology is quieter and the absence of moving parts means less wear and tear and therefore requires less maintenance—and maintenance cost—than traditional turbines.
The Dutch Windwheel will function as a 100 percent sustainable building where people will be able to live, work, dine, and learn (sections of the glass façade on the building will have augmented-reality touch screens, adding information to the panoramas).
For their recognition of the need for more sustainable sources of energy, their innovation, and their revolutionary foresight, we are happy to name Johan Smit and Dhiradi Djairam and the Dutch Windwheel our Luminaries of the Week.
Images Copyright © 2015 by Dutch Windwheel Corporation