But what if turbines weren’t quite so awful to be around—what if, in fact, they were quiet and good-looking? Researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have led the development of a “windmill” that converts wind energy into electricity without using any moving parts.
A prototype of the Electrostatic Wind Energy Convertor, designed by the Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, has a rectangular frame bridged by horizontal steel tubes, which are lined with electrodes that generate a negatively charged field. Nozzles on the tubes spray positively charged droplets of water . When wind blows through the frame, the positive particles are pushed off the tubes, against the force of the negative field . The separation of positive and negative charges generates potential energy that is converted into electricity . Unlike traditional windmills, which convert rotational energy into electric power, this one is silent and is expected to require minimal maintenance.