Ah, the power of video.
Ewicon – the Electrostatic Windenergy Converter – a bladeless wind energy concept that dates back nearly a decade, is suddenly all over the Internets, thanks to a nifty explanatory animation recently posted by its developers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
One of the researchers on Ewicon, Dhiradj Djairam, wrote up the concept in a 2005 paper, succinctly capturing its basic idea by describing it as a “method (that) is based on transporting electrically charged particles against the direction of an electric field by the wind and accumulating them at a collector.”
If that doesn’t make sense, well, like we said, there’s a video:
Of course there are many questions that flow from this concept, beginning with the rather basic one of whether this thing would be a net energy producer. After all, while the wind would carry the water droplets, it would take energy to get that water into place in order to be distributed into the electric field.
The abstract to the 2005 paper noted that “the system has been tested and this resulted in a conversion of 7% of the wind energy into electrical energy, whereas conventional wind turbine systems have an efficiency of 45% at their rated speeds.”
That’s a big gap. It makes you wonder if the commenter on Gizmag was right with the thought: “This sounds like using an onboard electric fan to push a sail boat!”
The video notes that “a working experimental prototype exists on a small scale.” No further information seems to be available, but we can show you a lovely picture of a model of the device built by the Dutch firm Mecanoo architecten and installed in front of the Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science Building at TU Delft:
And here’s another image from Mecanoo, an illustration that gives an idea of what the Ewicon would look like atop a building: