The Periodic Vortex Project

Working with human consciousnesses involved soft modeling and its relationship to built form. But other problem domains have similar demands. We engaged in a few experiments which were easier to measure than cognitive engineering.

Ordinary wind generators have a very low theoretical efficiency even when friction is perfect. The problem is the basic mechanism of capturing energy by the “motion“ of the wind. It has been shown that much greater efficiencies (more energy from the wind) can be achieved if pressure differentials are leveraged. The most straightforward scheme would obstruct the wind to create a vortex (tornado-like whirlwind) or series or vortices. The wind capture in some schemes is by conventional propeller but catching the amplified updraft. We were attracted instead to direct capture by small flexible cable with aerodynamic cross-section. In the case of periodic vortices, this would settle into a rotating standing wave.

The problem is in making shapes to create the vortices. Because of different directions, windspeeds and gust compositions, the problem is multiply non-linear which makes it impossible to solve by normal computational means. Our soft models (at this point using layered ontologies) were hosted at the time on machines of our own devising used for crypto.

Our solution validated both the soft model abstraction strategy and the computational approach by converging on a periodic minimal surface solution. The photos show the simple model used for wind tunnel validation. It can accept wind from most directions. It has a low threshold of starting (extended by exciting the cable which is not shown). The design shown vibrates at 60 Hz, regardless of windspeed which means that takeoff can be AC, fed directly into the grid with no conversion or storage losses.

No feathering is required at high winds: at high speeds, the vortex chokes and the excess wind just goes around. The only provision will be to prevent the tower from blowing down. It could be fabricated frangibly for hurricane safety in residential areas. It can be fabricated in modules and by hand, making it attractive for developing economies. It hums, which is a nuisance to humans, but a godsend to birds who know to avoid any danger. (Conventional turbines are a significant bird hazard.)

Modeld Study model.

Frame Prototype without surfaces.

Test A test.

Eighteen photos [Here].

Architectural Studies
Ted Goranson