Thinking Tech

New invention turns building rooftops into wind farms

New invention turns building rooftops into wind farms

Posting in Cities

The latest invention to take advantage of the abundance of gusts in urban environments is the IMPLUX wind turbine, a power generator that can harness winds coming from any directions.

Mention wind power and what most likely comes to mind are the familiar cookie-cutter wind farms located offshore or in some remote rural area. To make that snapshot a bit more scenic, you might even think of rolling plains and grassy hillsides.

Whatever the case, you probably wouldn't expect to see a wind turbine on the way to the movie theater. But as ideas like the SmartWind device for rooftops start rolling in, preconceived notions of how  and where wind energy can be harvested may someday change.

The latest invention to take advantage of the abundance of gusts in urban environments is the IMPLUX wind turbine, a power generator that can harness winds coming from any directions. To accomplish this, the inventor, Varan Sureshan came up with a design that's best described as an innovative departure from the hum-drum fan-shaped rotor blade contraption that has become the poster child for renewable wind energy.

The IMPLUX uses instead a vase-shaped shroud with an encircling vent-like structure to allow wind to enter in from every which direction. To prevent most of the air from escaping through one of the other entry points, the bottom opening creates what Sureshan calls a "fluid dynamic gate." The vent blades are also angled upward so that the incoming air can flow toward the direction of a horizontal rotor that sits atop the shroud. And as the rotor turns, it generates electricity.

Here's the link to a video that demonstrates the technology behind IMPLUX. (Sorry everyone, I couldn't find a way to embed it)

Sureshan founded a company, Katru Eco-Energy, to produce, market and sell the device. On the company's web site, he claims that "the new invention is capable of generating electrical power equal to or higher than standard horizontal wind turbines of same sized rotor but with the benefits of reduced noise and reduced maintenance."

Other noted benefits includes the capacity to be scaled up without any limitations, seamless integration with a building's existing electrical power supply and minimal risk to birds since the openings are too small for them to fly into.

He has submitted for IMPLUX for patenting and plans to test a prototype on a high-rise building sometime in June. If everything goes according to plan, he hopes to start selling 9.8 x 9.8 ft wind turbines that produce 1.5 kW sometime in mid-2012 for the price of $10,000 dollars.

Any takers?

Image: Katru Eco-Energy

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure