Up Against The Wall: Wind-Power Concept

The “Wind Cube,” by Liao-Hsun Chen and Wen-Chih Chang, is a lovely home-turbine concept, especially appealing when several are connected together against a wall in a hexaganol, honeycomb effect. And it’s not just pretty. To enliven the typically uninspiring wall with devices that provide power? That deserves kudos indeed.

You’ve got to admit, however, that some questions arise. Beginning with: What about this is a “cube”? From our careful examination, absolutely nothing cubish reveals itself. For a real wind cube, check out the one manufactured by Green Energy Technologies. Note the presence of a cube shape.

Wind Cube turbine design, wind power concept

image via Yanko Design

Perhaps more importantly, there’s the issue of how exactly the blades on the Wind Cube – the one that’s not really a cube – would be motivated to turn. The designers say each 100-watt (not a) Cube could “potentially generate 21.6 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month,” so if you array 15 of them together  you’ve got 324 kWh, “the amount a family of four uses per month. “ But as an astute if needlessly snarky commenter pointed out in response to the design: “Wind turbines work by letting the wind blow through them, turning a turbine. Wind does not to a significant degree blow through brick walls.”

To be fair, the designers include a telescopic shaft, allowing the wind turbine to be advanced some unspecified distance from the wall. That could help, and it would be interesting to see some experimentation on how far a turbine generally needs to be away from a wall to catch good air. But that’s the work of engineers, not designers.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.