Strawscraper is an invention of Swedish architecture firm Belatchew Arkitekter, which aims to add a straw lampshade-like cover on the top of an unfinished building in Stockholm called Söder Torn, that can harvest wind energy. (Source: Belatchew Arkitekter)
JimT, I agree with all of what you say. I think the technology itself is still being developed, as this is a long-term project (as I mention in my comment to bob). So some questions maynot quite be answered yet. But yes, it's a novel idea, and these urban wind turbines could really potentially harness an as-yet untapped but great source of energy. Imagine how much money people could save?
Hi, bobjengr, I did ask more specific questions in an interview but I think there is a little proprietary concern going on and perhaps they don't want to give up all their secrets. This is a long term project so perhaps also they are still working out the technical aspects. I suspect you're right about maintenance, too!
Putting the rash of aesthetic opinions aside, this is different. Let's address the practical technology, then the aesthetics. (Not to mention all the relevant comments about dust, shaking, and degrading over time – real issues to address and overcome)
First: great idea to use urban settings, particularly large concrete canyons like Manhattan & Chicago, which have a natural tendency to 'corral' wind in the channels of the streets & avenues. It's always windy, so this is a great venue for the technology to launch and develop.
The real breakthrough, tho' – is the straws themselves: piezoelectric ceramic discs anchored in a generator. I'd like to learn more about those, and how they work to generate current. They have to be expensive and the photo shows the tower covered with millions of them. A real economic challenge. I saw another comment about "where's the calculated efficiency?"
But hey; It's a start of a different idea. Let it incubate a while; good things will come from it.
Yes, Ratsky, that's true and a little-known fact! I think both the wind and the political power in Chicago can be harnessed to make changes like this and use more renewables in urban areas just as they are being used in more rural areas.
This is an interesting post Elizabeth. Thinking definitely outside the box. I logged on to their web site but did not see information relative to how they capture and store energy. Did they model the structure prior to installing the elements and do they have some idea as to how much energy can be stored? I am also very interested in knowing how they tie the elements (straws) together for total production and storage. I know the testing is premature but knowing the life cycle of this project would be very very interesting. I think maintenance would be somewhat of a nightmare but I suppose time will tell.
The design presents some interesting electrical engineering challenges.
How would you hook up all the elements? Their waveforms would be all different. Remember, piezoelectric elements are both generators and actuators. You cannot simply hook them up in series or parallel. They are also of typically high impedance.
The high impedance of the piezoelectric elements might cause some interesting side effects to the usual electrostatic potential gradient with height. Under some conditions the building might have the appearance of someone's hair when touching a Van de Graff machine.
A lightning strike would also present some interesting challenges.
This hairbrained concept seems more of that of an artist than an engineer.
@GTOlover--not to make light of earthquakes, but I'm now seeing the picture in my mind of a dog shaking the water off. So, if they build it, and are unlucky enough to have a large earthquake after a rainstorm, I hope the cameras are rolling.