We all know that wind power is one of the potential solutions to global energy needs but some innovators from Lancaster University are showing that they can do it using the wind that blows between buildings in cities.
Their simple invention - called O-Wind Turbine - has won the annual James Dyson innovation award. The 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. The device sits on a fixed axis and spins when wind hits it.
The O-Wind has won the UK leg of the James Dyson award - next it will go up against 81 finalists from 27 different countries to be whittled down to a top 20 shortlist before a single winner is eventually picked.
Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani from Lancaster University are behind the device, with the aim for O-Wind Turbine to be installed onto large structures such as the side of a building or balcony where wind speeds are at their highest.
The difference with this turbine (aside from its size) is that it's designed to harness wind that's coming from various directions. Traditional wind turbines harness wind from a single direction.
Nicolas Orellana first looked into the challenge of multidirectional wind after studying NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed rover, which was designed to roll like tumbleweed across the Mars surface but couldn't cope with multidirectional wind which could blow it off course.
Orellana and Noorani have won £2,000 to start product development.