December 5, 2013 – At this blog site we have looked at artificially-induced vortices as a novel approach to generating energy, but this one seems less like science fiction, a technology that captures wind from any direction and funnels and compresses it to drive a generator. It is called INVELOX which stands for INcreasing VELOcity of wind.
Wind turbines are mounted on top of towers. But INVELOX doesn’t require anything remotely like the infrastructure of windfarms. Instead it resembles a giant funnel attached to a ground-based generator. Inside the funnel is a wind turbine and as wind gets captured it funnels through an ever narrowing passage which accelerates its speed. The physics behind the technology is known as the Venturi effect and works like the head you put on your garden hose to up the pressure when watering plants.
The INVELOX form factor is much smaller than existing wind turbines standing about half the height (see image below) and the turbine blades within the funnel are 84% smaller than those found on traditional wind towers. And when you add the higher energy output that comes from accelerating the wind through the funnel you have what looks like a winning combination.
The developer is a company called SheerWind, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each INVELOX can produce a windstream within the funnel of 12 meters (40 feet) per second and enough energy to power up to 25,000 homes.
The technology has an additional advantages over other windpower technologies. Besides being bird and bat friendly, its footprint is smaller, it produces less noise because there are no outside moving parts, it can be maintained by ground-level crews with no high wire act, you don’t have to stop it when wind speeds exceed levels that could damage turbine blades, and it is omnidirectional when capturing wind.
SheerWind states that INVELOX can operate with wind speeds as low as 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) per hour and generates electricity at a cost of less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour.
The design can be scaled from small to large, for rooftop funnels on buildings, backyard funnels for homes, to utility-sized funnels for grid-based power generation.