A bladeless wind energy convertor inspired by the sailing boats of Ancient Carthage is set to breeze past traditional turbines in terms of efficiency, according to its Tunisian developers. Amy Pollock reports.
The ancient civilisation of Carthage meets 21st century design in this wind energy convertor. The Saphonian is bladeless and non-rotating and can capture twice as much energy as a traditional wind turbine, say its developers. Tunisian start-up Saphon Energy took its inspiration from Carthage's sailing boats of 2,000 years ago, as well as the movements of birds and fish. The result - an aerodynamic bowl-shaped sail and a wind convertor that follows a figure of eight pattern. Engineers say their design beats traditional wind turbines on performance and cost, making it ideal for off grid energy generation in developing countries like India. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) INVESTOR AND CO-CHAIRMAN OF SAPHON ENERGY, ANIS AOUINI, SAYING: "This project that is planned for India consisting of 50 Saphonians producing 20 kilowatts of power, a total of one mega watt, will be a wind farm. This power produced in south India, could meet the demands of a small village of 1000 houses." The prize-winning clean tech design is garnering support and funding from companies world, including Microsoft. SOUNDBITE (English) MICROSOFT REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, LEILA SERHAN, SAYING: "Obviously while we are building our cloud and building our 26 data centres that we have around the world, we are very particular in making sure that those data centres have zero emissions." The team hopes to improve on its current design so that one sail can generate one megawatt of power. Investor Khalid Qoreichi sees great potential in the Tunis-based Saphonian. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANGEL INVESTOR, KHALID QOREICHI, SAYING: "Energy is such a critical part of any economic growth, of regional growth, of international growth and if a third world project like this can come up to stream with the way they have brought it about, I think it's fantastic." The designers say risks to to birds and other wildlife are reduced and the wind energy convertor is far quieter than traditional turbines.