Dyson winners’ invention revolutionises urban wind power
5 Sep 2018
Two Lancaster University students have won the 2018 UK James Dyson Award for their revolutionary turbine that harnesses multi-directional winds for power.
Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani (pictured) drew inspiration from NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover to come up with the invention.
While traditional wind turbines can only capture horizontal wind travelling in one direction, the duo’s ‘O-Wind Turbine’ is a 25cm spherical device that sits on a fixed axis and spins when wind hits it from any direction. As the wind energy turns the device, gears drive a generator which converts the energy into electricity.
The technology provides new opportunity for harnessing energy in cities, where the prevalence of tall buildings makes wind direction unpredictable.
Explained Orellana: “We hope that the 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.”
We thought it would be a variation of some plain vanilla system. When they showed their video and their prototype, we were – excuse the pun – blown away
Professor Harry Hoster, Energy Lancaster
The inventors said they hope the turbine can be installed on tall structures, where wind speeds are at their highest.
“Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger own role in conserving our planet,” explained Orellana.
“Winning the James Dyson Award has validated our concept, and given us the confidence to approach investors to secure the capital, we need to turn our idea into a reality.”
Orellana and Noorani, who are both studying for an Msc in International Innovation, were advised by Professor Harry Hoster from Energy Lancaster and also benefited from 3D printing facilities and wind tunnel testing at Lancaster’s engineering department, plus support from Lancaster’s Enterprise Centre and Centre for Global Eco-Innovation.
Hoster commented: “When the students first approached us about test facilities for a new wind turbine design, we first thought it would just be the 23rdvariation of some plain vanilla system. When they showed their video and their prototype, we were – excuse the pun – blown away.
“Holding it in your hands and playing with it gives you a chance to understand what their new device actually does and how, if things go right, its ability to capture any random breezes will take urban energy harvesting to another level.”
Early inspiration came from Orellana’s study of the limitations of the Mars Tumbleweed Rover – an inflatable sphere designed to bounce along the surface of the planet, which was unable to overcome the prevailing conditions there.
After a meeting with Noorani, the pair then collaborated to examine how cities could employ wind technology to exploit energy for producing electricity.
Chairman of the Dyson Award judging panel Kenneth Grange said: “I was captivated by the simplicity of the design, relative to the enormous ambition of competing in the renewable energy sector.
“Developing ways to embed sustainability into society is an important challenge which will puzzle engineers for centuries, and these innovators show promise as early pioneers.
While the UK leg of the award provides valuable profile and £2,000 for development, the paid are now eligible for the international stage of the contest, for which the winning entry will receive £30,000.