Energy-providing wings

Article of 28 May 2014 

DualWingGenerator generates wind energy with wing-beating principle

Thousands of the white giants rotate every day on the land and on the high seas. Wind power stations are part of the landscape these days, particularly in windy regions. The big plus point: wind comes free of charge. The free energy source now covers around three per cent of the worldwide energy demand.

Wind energy is one of the oldest forms of energy used by mankind. Mechanical work was carried out with the help of windmills centuries ago; from the 20th century, wind energy was also used to generate electricity. Wind power stations developed from windmill technology and the principle of the rotating blades remained the same over the years. With the DualWingGenerator, Festo has now developed a new technology platform whose extraordinary working principle opens up new prospects.

Producing electricity with beating wings

The DualWingGenerator has two pairs of horizontally arranged wings instead of rotor blades. It takes kinetic energy from the air flow and turns it into electricity with the aid of an electric generator. The method the installation employs is the reverse of the natural beating wing principle, which birds use to fly. Festo gained important knowledge from them in order to develop the DualWingGenerator: back in 2011 the company managed to decode bird flight with the SmartBird, an imitation of the lesser black-backed gull.

Due to its horizontal arrangement and compact design, the DualWingGenerator can also be installed on buildings. In addition, unlike its big brothers it casts less shadow, is quieter and poses no danger for migratory birds. Theoretically, the highest possible fluid mechanical efficiency of small wind power installations, in other words how much kinetic energy can be taken from the air flow's wind energy, is 59 per cent. With an efficiency of 45 per cent measured in the laboratory at low wind speeds between 4 and 8 m/s, the DualWingGenerator is more efficient than other small wind power installations.

Local energy generation

Small wind power installations have a large growth potential when it comes to the efficient use of renewable energy. Especially when a local power supply is necessary – for instance in countries like the USA, Asia and Australia, where there is little or no ability to connect to the power grid in remote areas. The DualWingGenerator could also be installed on buildings – even in city centres. With its high level of efficiency, the Future Concept could be an interesting alternative to photovoltaic installations, which normally only have an efficiency of around 20 per cent.

See the DualWingGenerator in action here: