These bladeless wind turbines create electricity without spinning

Vortex Bladeless
The turbines we currently use for wind power are incredibly advanced pieces of technology. Everything inside of them –from the shape of their airfoils to the generators they spin– has been painstakingly engineered for maximum efficiency. They’re a very mature technology, but that’s not to say an alternative concept might not be an improvement.

Case in point: these incredible tube-like wind turbines from Spanish startup Vortex Bladeless. Through a clever manipulation of physics, the company’s turbines are able to generate electricity without the help of any large, spinning blades. It sounds crazy, but it’s totally legit — Vortex has been developing the turbines for the past few years, and even went so far as to build its own wind tunnel to prove the technology works.

Instead of capturing energy through the circular motion of a propellor, Vortex turbines take advantage of a physical phenomenon known as vorticity — an aerodynamic effect that creates a pattern of spinning vortices or whirlwinds. Think about the little eddies that form around the edge of a canoe paddle when you move it through the water. This is the same principle — except substituting air instead for water, of course, and with the air moving around a stationary paddle (the turbine) that sticks out of the ground.

As the wind blows past the turbine, little whirlwinds are created behind it, and when they get big enough, they cause the structure to oscillate. This kinetic energy is then used to power an alternator, which multiplies the frequency of the tower’s oscillation and converts the motion in to usable electricity.

The result? A drastically cheaper wind turbine. Vortex claims that its design can reduce manufacturing costs by 53%, cut maintenance costs by 80%, and would represent a 40% reduction in both the carbon footprint and generation costs when compared to conventional bladed wind turbines. They’re also quieter, and present a much lower risk to birds who fly near them.

Vortex hasn’t yet begun production of its planned full-size, 490-foot turbine (capable of 1 megawatt of power), but the bulk of its R&D is done, and they’ve produced a number of smaller working prototypes. They’re extremely close to launching a pilot program to get the turbines out into the world, and to help make that happen, they’ve recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

It’s worth noting that the campaign isn’t so much about launching the turbine as it is about spreading awareness. The company has already secured millions of dollars in funding from private investors, and so Vortex turbines will become a reality regardless of whether the campaign succeeds — but every cent counts.

Obviously, you won’t receive a turbine of your own if you pledge your support, but if you back the project now you can get your hands on some sweet Vortex Bladeless merch (t-shirts, hoodies, etc.) — along with, of course, as the satisfaction of knowing you helped a brilliant invention come to life.

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Smart Home

Gas dryers vs. electric dryers: Knowing the difference could save you some dough

Whether you buy an electric dryer or a gas dryer may depend solely on your setup, unless you want to spend money to get a gas hookup for your home. But if you have a choice, there are some differences to take into account.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Wearables

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.