Lancaster students win prestigious UK James Dyson Award

The two Dyson Award winning students are looking at their turbine invention © Oliver Ruskin
Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani with their wind turbine invention

Two Lancaster University students have been named as winners of the 2018 UK James Dyson Award.

Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani, who are both studying Msc International Innovation at Lancaster, have won the prestigious Award for their novel wind turbine invention.

Traditional wind turbines only capture wind travelling in one direction. This makes them very inefficient in cities where buildings catapult winds into chaos – making winds unpredictable and multi-directional.

Using a simple geometric shape, the ‘O-Wind Turbine’ is designed to utilise the relatively untapped resource of urban winds, generating energy even on the windiest of days.

O-Wind Turbine is a 25cm sphere with geometric vents. It sits on a fixed axis and spins when wind hits it from any direction. When the wind energy turns the device, gears drive a generator which converts the energy into electricity.

This can be used as a direct source of power or can be fed back to the grid.

Mr Orellana first became interested in the challenge of multi-directional wind after studying NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover – an inflatable ball designed to autonomously bounce across the surface of Mars.

By exploring the limitations of Tumbleweed, Mr Orellana’s three-dimensional wind turbine technology was born. Mr Orellana met Mr Noorani at Lancaster University and they soon identified how cities could use this technology to harness energy to produce electricity.

They hope O-Wind Turbines can be installed on large structures, such as the sides of buildings, or balconies, where wind speeds are at their highest.

Nicolas Orellana said: “We hope that O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world. Cities are windy places but we are currently not harnessing this resource.

“Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger own role in conserving our planet. Winning the James Dyson Award has validated our concept, and given us the confidence to approach investors to secure the capital we need to turn our idea into a reality.”

The students’ design process has been advised and supported by Professor Harry Hoster from Energy Lancaster. In addition they have used 3D printing facilities and wind tunnel testing at Lancaster’s Engineering Department and have also received support from Lancaster’s Enterprise Centre and Centre for Global Eco-Innovation.

Professor Hoster said: “When the two students first approached us about test facilities for a new wind turbine design, we first thought it would just be the 23rd variation of some plain vanilla system. When they humbly showed their video and their prototype, however, we were, excuse the pun, blown away.

“Only holding it in your hands and playing with it gives you a chance to understand what their new device actually does and how, if things go right, its ability to capture any random breezes will take urban energy harvesting to another level.”

Sir Kenneth Grange, Chair of Judges, said: “I was captivated by the simplicity of the design, relative to the enormous ambition of competing in the renewable energy sector.

“Developing ways to embed sustainability into society is an important challenge which will puzzle engineers for centuries, and these innovators show promise as early pioneers.

“While the project is still at the beginning of a long and gruelling journey of iterations and frustrations, the James Dyson Award exists to reward young engineers with vision. For this reason we felt O-Wind Turbine was worthy of holding the accolade of JDA UK National Winner 2018 and receiving £2,000 investment to kick start their product development.”

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