Wind turbines are no longer for the drawn out corn fields, deserts, or mountainous regions. In fact you may be seeing them in the urban city soon enough. Asahi Kasei Plastics N.A. Inc. is working with Unified Energies International, Inc. in the development of the “Windstrument” wind turbine to bring affordable renewable energy to the masses.
The manufacturer claims that it is an “affordable, flexible, bird safe, powerful, self-directing, scaleable wind turbine system with a unique add on power storage capability.” The problem with large wind turbines is that they are both noisy and produce the “flicker shadow” effect. This occurs when the sun hits the blade when it is spinning (think being in your house and having someone constantly turning the lights on and off). The Windstrument solves these problems and does so with impeccable design. No more boring three blade poles!
The issues with sustainability often pertain to cost, effectiveness, and design. Managing all three can be quite a task and if any of the three are negatively impacted the market for the product flops. The Windstrument appears to appeal to all three at first glance and is inspired by nature. The design follows what is known as Conical Helicoid and is commonly found in nature. This design allows for maximum wind capture even on non-windy days.
The potential problems with locating this in an urban setting would be gathering enough energy to offset the cost of the product. There is a reason why these are located in rural open fields. On the note of design the product, visually, is appealing and versatile but would that be enough for businesses or residential homes to add one to their roof? Thinking to green roofs for a minute it could be a possibility but the benefits/outputs would have to be made apparent first. Sustainability is always a challenge for designers as products must be made to suit the environments’ needs and humans’ needs while being practical and comparative to traditional methods all at a cost that is similar to existing resources.
1). Stone, Zak. “Finally, A More Exciting Design for Wind Power” Fast Company Co-Exist. 23 July 2012.
2). Windstrument Website. http://www.windstrument.com/index.php/faq
3). BetterplanWI. ” Wind Turbine Shadow Flicker and Noise, Byron, Wisconsin. YouTube.com. 17 August 2008. Video.