A city turbine and the wind of change

Posted on 06 June 2019.

In Britain, two students from Lancaster University have devised the O-Wind Turbine, a mini-wind turbine with an ingenious design especially for cities.

Yaseen Noorani and Nicolas Orellana, the two young inventors of O-Wind, want to help increase the proportion of wind power in the global electricity generation mix - according to the World Energy Council it currently represents only 4% of the total. How? By taking advantage of an untapped resource: the wind in cities. And by letting people living in apartments generate their own green electricity.
Our cities can be very windy indeed. The idea of installing wind turbines is an attractive one, but there are lots of challenges associated with it. In the city, winds are capricious at best: wind speeds fluctuate with at times strong gusts. In addition, these winds are particularly turbulent with constant changes of direction caused by large buildings and other obstacles – thus making traditional horizontal axis wind turbines inefficient.
But the O-Wind turbine is not a traditional wind turbine. Its unique design enables it to capture wind that is blowing in any direction, and either vertically or horizontally. In addition, its compact size and shape means it could be fitted on residential buildings to make it accessible to city dwellers.

By analyzing the limits of NASA's Tumbleweed Rover, a large inflatable sphere designed to move autonomously on Mars as it gathers scientific data, the two English students designed their omnidirectional turbine concept.
The O-Wind is a sphere-shaped device on a single axis of rotation with vents sliced into the surface to allow wind to flow in from any direction. When the wind blows, the sphere rotates and this rotation runs a generator that transforms the force of the wind into electricity. The electricity can then be used directly or injected into the national grid.
Thanks to their turbine’s ingenious design, Yaseen Noorani and Nicolas Orellana won first prize at the prestigious international James Dyson Awards competition in 2018.