The Invention of the Decade: Bladeless Windmill
While travelling by the countryside, farms or the hilly areas beside the highways, it’s common to see windmills at different heights with shafts rotating; adding to the natural beauty and at the same time harnessing wind energy to generate electricity. As you picture the windmill, there is something that is very obvious; it’ll have 3 huge blades. If I say bladeless windmill, it will only be accepted by the person who has never seen a windmill. For others, we have this EWICON (electrostatic wind energy converter)-the ‘bladeless’ windmill.
|‘bladeless’ windmill picture|
Let’s start from the very basics. The windmill is a device which converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. The kinetic energy of the wind makes blades rotate which rotates the mechanical shaft move which, which generates electricity through a generator. But what if we remove the intermediate shaft and directly use the kinetic energy to generate electricity? EWICON is using another way to do so. It is done by making a charged particle move against the direction of an electric field.
A positively charged particle moves in the direction of electric field, i.e. towards the negatively charged plate. But when it is made to move against the direction of the electric field, the potential energy increases. EWICON uses positively charged particles (water droplets) which are blown against the electric field. The wind’s kinetic energy converted to potential energy of the particle can be collected using different methods.
The charged particles can be collected by an insulated collector (a mesh like structure), causing the voltage of the collector to rise. The electric energy stored in the collector can be converted and transported for use in everyday appliances. There is a simpler method (in current use).The charging system which generates charged particles is earthed. When the positively charged particles are blown away by the wind, net negative charge is left back, thus creating a potential difference.
When energy is converted sequentially too many forms, there is a loss associated with each level. EWICON is eliminating the intermediate losses caused due to conversion of kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy by directly producing electricity. This accounts for the comparatively higher efficiency than the conventional systems. It has been designed in many different shapes and sizes. Moreover it has no large moving part, it causes less noise, and less vibrations.
These salient features make it more suitable for installation in urban areas, i.e. no large stretches of landscape is needed. Research is going on for its economical installation on a large scale. Soon, these will be installed in many other cities for a larger electricity generation using Bladeless Windmill.