Energy ball spins new form of wind energy

Picture a wind turbine that uses an egg beater rather than stick-straight blades to produce energy, and you've got a fair sense of the Energy Ball, made by Home Energy, a company from The Netherlands.

According to Home Energy, the system exploits the Venturi effect, in which a fluid traveling through a constricted channel will increase its velocity and decrease its pressure. The spinning egg-beater ball constricts the wind around it, decreasing the pressure inside the sphere relative to the outside, which in essence sucks the wind in through its blades and helps to keep them spinning.

The idea is that the curved blades move parallel to the wind, which apparently cuts down on the amount of noise they produce. The company intends to market them for small-scale generation, on the roofs of homes, businesses, and public buildings. Each one costs between $3500 and $7000.

According to this story, the devices come in two sizes. A small energy ball of one meter in diameter would be able to generate up to 500 kilowatt-hours a year and a 2-meter-in-diameter ball would be more than three times that, in places where wind speeds exceed 15 miles per hour. To put that in context, the average American uses about 800 kilowatt-hours a month. Framed another way, a small energy ball would generate enough electricity to power just a washing machine for six months. A typical American household spends about $900 on electricity each year, so some rebates and tax incentives will be needed for Home Energy to succeed on the other side of the Atlantic.


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