Innovative 3D Urban Turbine to Harness Multi-directional Wind in Cities

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Inspired by NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover, O-Wind Turbine is designed to utilise the powerful untapped multi-directional wind in cities 


Two MSc students of Lancaster University have set out to harness multi-directional wind in cities with an inventive new type of turbine.

Originating from Chile and Kenya respectively, Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani are studying International Innovation MSc at Lancaster University.

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The taller the cities are, the windier they become. However, this powerful and plentiful resource is left untapped largely because traditional wind turbines only capture wind travelling in one direction. This means they are very inefficient in cities where the wind is unpredictable and multi-directional.

When wind blows through cities it becomes trapped between buildings, is dragged down to the street and is pushed up into the sky. This catapults wind into chaos, which renders conventional turbines unusable. Using a simple geometric shape, O-Wind Turbine is designed to utilise this powerful untapped resource, generating energy even on the windiest of days.

Nicolas Orellana first became interested in the challenge of multidirectional wind after studying NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover.

Tumbleweed Rover: Six feet in diameter, this inflatable ball was designed to autonomously bounce and roll like tumbleweed, across Mars’ surface to measure atmospheric conditions and geographical location. Like conventional wind turbines, it was powered by unidirectional wind blows which severely impaired the rover’s mobility when faced with obstructions, often throwing it off course and resulting, ultimately, in the failure of the project.

By exploring the limitations of the Tumbleweed, Nicolas’s three-dimensional wind turbine technology was born. Nicolas and his fellow student Yaseen Noorani soon identified how cities could use this technology to harness energy to produce electricity.

How does O-Wind Turbine work?

O-Wind Turbine is a 25cm sphere with geometric vents; it sits on a fixed axis and spins when wind hits it from any direction. When wind energy turns the device, gears drive a generator which converts the power of the wind into electricity. This can either be used as a direct source of power, or it can be fed into the electricity grid.

Nicolas and Yaseen aim for O-Wind Turbine to be installed to large structures such as the side of a building, or balcony, where wind speeds are at their highest.

Nicolas believes that O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world.

“Cities are windy places but we are currently not harnessing this resource. Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger own role in conserving our planet. Winning the international James Dyson Award has validated our concept,” he said.

Nicolas informed they are in discussions with investors and they hope to secure a deal in the coming months.


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