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Using giant bridges (viaducts) to harness wind energy possible: Researchers

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Using viaducts as infrastructural frame for wind turbines was first discussed in an entry to a competition in 2011.The proposal was to integrate many small wind-turbines or matrix of these turbines into viaducts under some of the bridges in Italy.

Now, researchers from Kingston University in London have again come out with the same idea but with detailed data through studies of simulations and analysis of electricity generation.

The Juncal, a viaduct in the Canary Islands, was used for a model and computer simulations. The simulations were carried out by Oscar Soto and his team.

Through simulations, researchers showed wind turbines as porous discs to evaluate the air resistance and test configurations. The simulation verified that wind blowing between the pillars of such huge brides can push wind turbines to produce as much as 0.50 MW of electricity, which is enough to run 400-500 homes. That’ll cut 140 tons of CO2 per year by decreasing grid electricity consumption. Installation of two medium-sized wind turbines of 0.25 MW capacities each is suggested as the most efficient configuration.

Considering the configuration with two identical turbines as viable for installation in viaducts, Soto said,

“As natural, the more surface is swiped by the rotor, the more power can be produced; however, it was seen that in small turbines the power rate per square meter is higher.”

The research holds a considerable value for territories with heavy built-up or protected areas with low available space for any further installation. Further, researchers are looking for the possibilities of adding wind energy to energy produces from other renewable resources like solar, biomass installation, and geothermal energy.

viaduct wind turbine model

Solar energy plants have an advantage over wind-turbine installation when geographical and territorial limits are considered. Solar panels can be installed on any surface ranging from huge commercial building rooftop to small gadgets. Wind turbines require huge blades, and turbines must be installed at a height to hit higher-speed winds. More or less, wind-turbines are limited to off-shore areas. Also, near residential areas, turbines are annoying for people as they make too much noise.

However, using viaduct method has potential to offer us the capacity to harness wind-energy in any place with giant bridges or similar structures. The bridges can carry the daily traffic and generate renewable energy at the same time. A small gap between two mountains facing each other, for instance, would provide same space as that provided by a viaduct.

Via: TreeHugger /Science Direct

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