Monday, October 25, 2010
It’s counterintuitive, but the idea that wind turbines without blades could generate as much energy per square meter as standard wind turbines is based on scientific observation.
The science behind New York design firm Atelier DNA’s “windstalks” is simple kinetic energy; the same energy found in a field of swaying prairie grass. Like many of the Land Art Generator exhibits, Atelier takes it cue directly from Nature to deliver resource-economical and highly effective but visually intriguing forms of energy and energy conservation.
The Land Art Generator initiative is a series of aesthetic yet fully functional energy generating and efficiency measures produced by collaborating artists, architects, scientists, landscape architects, and engineers.
Sponsored by Masdar City, an emerging, clean technology zone located outside Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, the competition awarded Atelier’s offering, simply named Windstalk, second prize.
Masdar City, which aims to be the world’s first carbon neutral and self-sufficient city via clean energy technologies like wind and solar, is being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company.
Inspired by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the city is the UAE’s answer to developing a clean technology hub. Ironic, that the very area which has so far offered us little but polluting fossil-fuel forms of energy is also showing us the way to a sustainable future.
Windstalk has also successfully evaded the more common complaints surrounding traditional wind turbines, namely, that they are noisy, emit annoying vibrations that affect humans, cows and other animals, and kill birds. In addition, designers have managed to incorporate energy storage that mimics hydropower.
Windstalk specifications call for 1,203 highly flexible carbon fiber poles 180 feet high and one foot in diameter at the base tapering to 2 inches at the top. The poles are filled with piezoelectric ceramic discs alternating with electrodes connected by cables along the length of each pole – one cable for positive-pole electrodes, another for negative-polarity electrodes. When the wind blows, the flexing of the poles compresses the discs, generating a charge which flows through the electrodes. Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, at the top of each pole glow brighter or dimmer depending on the amount of energy being generated, or go entirely dark when the wind isn’t blowing – a clever but ludicrously expensive barometer to calculate desert sandstorms.