This Giant Vibrator Could Somehow Be the Future of Wind Power thumbnail

This Giant Vibrator Could Somehow Be the Future of Wind Power

Picture a long, white rod.

The rod has a smooth, curved head. Is your heart rate speeding up?

The rod is undulating at a quick but steady pace. It’s moving back and forth. Are you sweating?

Now imagine the rod is big.

Like, really big.

Like, 10 feet (3 meters) long.

And now imagine it’s generating carbon-free electricity.

That’s essentially one tech startup’s bold new pitch: What if clean power, but it looks like a giant sex toy? I mean, seriously, look at these things.

The Spanish company Vortex Bladeless has developed a model for bladeless wind turbines that, while incredibly horny, may also help address a gap in how the world deploys wind power. The company says these giant rods can generate clean power—and without the harmful environmental effects of traditional windmill-style turbines that can kill birds (though not nearly at the level of fossil fuels). They call it a vortex-induced, vibration-resonant wind generator, but the good people of Reddit have stepped in to give it a much more fitting name: the skybrator.

The bladeless turbine design includes a lightweight cylinder that is fixed vertically with an elastic rod. As you can see in their mockup video, the white cylinders appear to be waving back and forth like a hornier version of one of those inflatable tubeman things from an auto repair shop. But according to the company, they’re actually oscillating back and forth and generating electricity from the vibration. They have a whole scientific paper on the study behind this, and it shows some promise; Norway’s state oil company Equinor dubbed it one of the 10 most exciting energy startups earlier this year.

Vortex Bladeless says their new technology would allow us to capture wind power even without strong winds present since the generators create their own movement. It also says the model’s lack of blades is environmentally beneficial since traditional turbines can pose dangers to birds, bats, and other wildlife. These are real concerns even though they’ve also been wildly overblown by Koch Brothers-funded right-wing anti-renewables groups. The organization also says their turbines are super quiet, creating noise at such a low level that it’s virtually undetectable to the human ear. They’re also slightly more inconspicuous than traditional turbines, which could assuage NIMBY fears that wind turbines can block their beautiful views. (TBD on how NIMBYs feel about ginormous wind vibrators, though.)

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The company says its turbines could fill the holes in existing wind power plans. The model is suitable for urban and residential locations where people might want to generate clean power locally, but where large-scale wind farms would take up too much space and be too disruptive. It’s a small-scale wind option. A personal one. One you may even keep in your bedside table drawer.

Vortex Bladeless hopes to scale up its plans, creating versions that are 450 feet (140 meters) tall with a power capacity to generate 1 megawatt of electricity each. That’s enough to power 400 to 900 homes. But right now, the company has only done field tests of the smaller models. It is currently looking for an industrial partner to make its wild fantasy into a reality.

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