EWICON: The Silent, Harmless Wind “Turbine”

EcoBeat Staff – One of the key arguments against wind turbines, aside from the fact that some consider them an eyesore, is that they kill birds. Studies, such as one by two federal scientists and Wallace Erickson of environmental consulting firm West Inc., have found that 214,000-368,000 birds are killed each year in North America by the turbines. The authors then compared that number with other data, such as the fact that 6.8 million birds die from collisions with cell and radio towers in the US annually, while up to 3.7 million birds are killed by cats each year.

With high growth of wind turbines expected over the coming years as countries invest in renewable energy, the number of birds killed by this clean energy will only increase. While it is worth noting that even with those increases, bird deaths from wind turbines will still pale in comparison to those caused by cell/radio towers and cats, researchers in the Netherlands at Delft Technical Institute have made a move to address that very problem by taking a new approach to wind turbine design. According to Nature World News, “The system works by releasing positively charged drops of water into the air. The water droplets get picked up by the wind and carried through the EWICONs electric field, harvesting the potential energy of the charged water droplets.”

At first glance, the EWICON looks like an exciting innovation in wind turbine technology: no dead birds, no moving parts, and minimal maintenance. Initial studies suggest that the turbine is capable of a 7% efficiency ratio, severely lagging behind the rate of wind turbines (some of which function at a 40-50% efficiency ratio).

Furthermore, the droughts currently being experienced around the globe make a technology dependent on water droplets unappealing and unsustainable, particularly when compared to solar technologies or wind turbines. Given the need for water in the process, one could even go so far as to suggest that this technology isn’t “renewable” at all.

Regardless of the true functionality of the EWICON system, it is clear that there are still new ideas and innovations to be had in the field of wind technologies when investments are made in finding them.

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