James Dyson Award winners’ wind turbine captures wind from all directions

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

This year’s winners of the James Dyson Award, Nicholas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani from Lancaster University, have devised a way to generate electricity from wind generated by buildings in city centres.

Traditional wind turbines only capture wind travelling in one direction and as such are very inefficient in cities where the wind is unpredictable and multi-directional. When wind blows through cities it becomes trapped between buildings, is dragged down to the street and is pushed up into the sky. This chaos renders conventional turbines unusable. Using a simple geometric shape, the pair’s ‘O-Wind Turbine’ is designed to utilise this untapped resource to generating energy.

Orellana first became interested in the challenge of multidirectional wind after studying NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed rover. Six feet in diameter, this inflatable ball was designed to autonomously bounce and roll like tumbleweed, across Mars’ surface to measure atmospheric conditions and geographical location. However, the rover’s mobility was severely impaired by obstructions, often throwing it off course which, ultimately, resulted in the failure of the project.

By looking at the limitations of the Tumbleweed, Orellana’s three-dimensional wind turbine technology was born. Orellana and Noorani soon identified how cities could use this technology to harness energy to produce electricity.

Orellana said: “We hope that O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world. Cities are windy places, but we are currently not harnessing this resource. Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger role in conserving our planet.”

O-Wind Turbine is a 25cm sphere with geometric vents that sits on a fixed axis and spins when wind hits it from any direction. When wind energy turns the device, gears drive a generator which generates electricity that can either be used as a direct source of power or can be fed into the electricity grid.

“I was captivated by the simplicity of the design, relative to the enormous ambition of competing in the renewable energy sector,” said Sir Kenneth Grange, chair of judges. “Whilst the project, is still at the beginning of a long and gruelling journey of iterations and frustrations, the James Dyson Award exists to reward young engineers with vision. For this reason, we felt O-Wind Turbine was worthy of holding the accolade of JDA UK National Winner 2018 and receiving £2000 investment to kick start their product development.”

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