By Jim Drury
Two British-based researchers have created an award-winning new design for a mini wind turbine that looks like a volleyball and can catch a breeze blowing in any direction, which they say will make green energy more attainable for people who live in cities
The O-Wind Turbine, created by Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani from Lancaster University, is a small plastic sphere with vents that catch wind from any direction, causing it to spin on its axis like a ball balanced on the end of a finger.
It is better suited than traditional turbines for harnessing the ever-changing winds that blow through built-up locations, the inventors say.
“Cities are windy places but we are currently not harnessing this resource,” said Orellana, who is from Chile. “We hope that O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world.”
The duo, who recently finished their master’s degrees in international innovation, say the 25 cm sphere can be attached to the side of buildings or balconies and provide green energy for the home or send it to the grid.
The duo’s interest in broadening the capabilities of wind turbines came after studying the limitations of NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover, an inflatable ball designed to autonomously bounce across the surface of Mars.
The O-Wind Turbine claimed the UK version of the James Dyson Award last month and is in contention next month for the international version of the prize, which was set up by Dyson, the billionaire British vacuum cleaner inventor and designer.
The duo hope to have the product launched to market within five years and also plan to research the possibility of adapting the technology to generate wave energy from the sea.
(Editing by Patrick Johnston and Peter Graff)