The Dutch Windwheel, an Upgrade from the Windmill
The Dutch have evolved the windmill into the Windwheel. The windmill uses wind power to turn a turbine to generate electricity, the Windwheel uses a new technology that has no moving parts. The Windwheel will be designed, built and managed by the Dutch Windwheel Corporation which is owned by the Rotterdam-based companies BLOC, DoepelStrijkers and Meysters. It will be a multi-function green structure expected to be opened to the public in 2020.
The 590 foot high structure will be located at the Rotterdam port, and built like it is floating on the water. It will have a 160 room hotel and 72 residential units. The Windwheel will be a tourist attraction with views of Delft, The Hague, and Dordrecht. It is projected to bring in 1.5 million visitors a year. The Windwheel is also projected to be profitable within just a decade.
The Windwheel gets its green credentials mainly from its use of an electrostatic wind energy converter, or EWICON. An electric wind energy converter does not use mechanical energy, that’s what makes it different from a windmill. EWICON uses droplets of water, pushed through a frame of tubes by wind to generate electricity. The basic construction is made up of a frame of tubes, these tubes constantly release positively charged water droplets. When the wind blows these positively charged water droplets, the voltage of the device changes resulting in an electric field, which can be transferred and used. The technology was developed in Delft University and Wageningen University. The Windwheel will also use solar panels and collect rain water for use within the structure.
The advantage of EWICON over windmill technology is that they require less maintenance because they have fewer moving parts. They are also not as intrusive as windmills and can be easily fitted into buildings. The technology is also noiseless, which is good for residents.
The Windwheel will be a giant circular turbine surrounded by two rings. One ring will house the flats, hotel and restaurant, while the other will be a tourist attraction ride with 40 cabins. It is undeniably a bold plan, and the beauty of the glass and steel structure makes it worth looking forward to.