Wind turbines: 5 innovations in the wind

Silent wind turbines

Researchers in Virginia tech and Cambridge University hope to make wind turbines as unobtrusive as owls. These specialists in biomimetics, a discipline which takes ideas from living beings to create new processes, have observed fluff at the end of owls’ wings which is “like a silk comb”. This reduces friction in the air and reduces the flight noise of the bird of prey. Covered in a similar material, printed in 3D and in plastic, their wind turbine blades lose none of their aerodynamics and emit up to 10 decibels less noise. After tests in a wind tunnel, full-scale tests will be carried out in the coming weeks. © DR
Making wind turbines easier to maintain

Thanks to Cornis, a company created by two specialist aerospace engineers, inspecting impellers will no longer require binoculars or involve perilous climbs. The company has developed a robot controlled from the ground, which takes numerous photographs of the blades in high definition. An algorithm then assembles these shots to accurately show its condition. Another advance created by the company is vibration monitoring. By recording the vibrations made by the blade and separating wind vibrations from those made by the structure itself, a complete check-up may be carried out on the machinery. © Cornis
Wind turbines in the right place

Lidar by Léosphère is able to measure the power of the wind with great precision. A sort of “optical radar”, it calculates its speed from a beam of light by analysing the movements of “invisible particles” (such as the wind, but also gases for example). Then, when the most promising site for a wind turbine needs to be found, this remote laser detection system makes it possible to predict the resources of any future wind farm. This means wind turbines can be sited in the most effective places. The size of a small refrigerator, it is easily transportable and allows measurements to be made from the ground. So it is not by chance that the EDF group has already ordered two for use on the Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer sites. © Shutterstock
Air turbines without blades

For greater simplicity and unobtrusiveness, Vortex Bladless has managed to remove the blades from its wind turbines. It comes in the form of a fibreglass and carbon mast which oscillates with the wind. This kinetic energy is concerted into mechanical then electrical energy. An advantage of the innovation which is still in the test phase is that it is 50% less expensive to manufacture and maintain than a traditional wind turbine. © Vortex Bladeless
Wind turbines in town

The Breton company Newwind has converted wind turbines into trees for installation within towns and cities. With the slightest movement of the air, each leaf of these high-tech devices spins on its axis. Silent and connected to a generator, they produce a current which feeds either a house or a charging station. The wind tree which was in line for the EDF Pulse awards for which the 3rd season starts at the end of October 2015, can supply up to 15 street lights or provide lighting for 100 m2 of offices. A convincing argument for making towns greener. © Newwind
To go further
Wind turbines that look like fields of reeds

Source:: Wind turbines: 5 innovations in the wind