I have to confess, nothing gives me greater pleasure than spotting the graceful wind turbines on the landscape. They represent a clean sustainable future, one where we rely less on polluting coal and gas fired electricity. The truth is, graceful as they may be, the technology behind them is from the Middle Ages. They tend to hit their peak efficiency in near typhoon winds that relegate most towns to rubble, and their huge blades have been known to desiccate the odd flock migratory birds! They do have their limitations. But, their enviro-friendly feel good credentials are undeniable, till now.
The German company, Festo, has developed a twist on the conventional wind turbine. The DUAL WING GENERATOR, uses two wing surfaces, but rather than rotating like a conventional wind turbines they operate on a vertical plane horizontally opposed. Well, that sounds like something only a German engineer understands. It simply means instead of spinning, the wings flap. Just like a bird! The vertical movement is transferred to rotary movement in mechanicals housed in a central tower. Why is this good you may ask? Well, firstly, you don’t need a near typhoon to run your toaster anymore. The system generates electricity in wind speeds as low as 9mph! So the system is far more efficient than conventional wind turbines.
Looking at the prototype, it looks as though you can scale the size of the unit up or even batch them into walls of generators to take advantage of topography. Also, I can’t help think that the flat surface of the wing can also be used to house solar panels? All told, this is a very exciting development for mechanical power generation as the applications could be many and varied. It could spell the end of centralized power generation as we have come to know it. I can just imagine batches of these built into office towers to fulfill their power needs. I think The Dual Wing Generator has the potential to silence the naysayers, being ruthlessly efficient, rather than flutteringly romantic though. I may lament the loss of those graceful wind turbines sometime in the future, but what do I know. I’m not a migratory bird avoiding desiccation!