There have been many proposed alternatives to the spinning propeller blades used on wind turbines, but none as unorthodox as Festo's new DualWingGenerator. Inspired by the company's work on winged flying robots, the design keeps working when winds are as slow as 14km/h.
So how on earth could it possibly even work? The shape of a bird's wings produces lift and propulsion as they're being flapped up and down. And the same thing is happening here, except that the wings are fixed to the ground, and the air blowing past them causes them to rise.
Since the two sets of wings are perpetually kept out of sync, one is always being lifted by the air, while the other drops into position to be lifted again. And the cleverly engineered mechanism inside that vertical shaft sends the excess energy to a generator to produce power.
What's most impressive is that not only is this crazy looking contraption able to produce electricity, but in some situations it can outperform traditional wind turbine designs, particularly when wind speeds drop. And, without a set of what occasionally double as spinning knives, the DualWingGenerator could be safer to birds who would simply get bumped out of the way if they flew into it. [Festo via Dvice]