All posts by Lucy Ingham

Revolutionary urban wind turbine to transform city power generation

A brand new type of wind turbine that is designed specifically for cities was today unveiled in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Dubbed Liam F1, the wind turbine is far more compact than previous designs and features a spiral shape that dramatically improves its efficiency. The result is a design that can generate enough energy to cover 50% of the power needs of a typical European family while producing far less noise than a traditional turbine.

Developed by The Archimedes, a Rotterdam-based research and development company, the turbine is based on theories developed by the ancient Greek mathematician of the same name. Its designer, Marinus Mieremet, has also taken inspiration from the Nautilis shell, which is famous for its perfect spiral.

archimedes-1

The spiral design is not just for show: it provides several advantages over traditional designs.

For one thing, the turbine is a lot smaller, with a footprint and appearance similar to a large satellite dish.

This means it can snugly fit on most rooftops alongside solar panels or other units, which makes it far more useful for city environments where space is at a premium than traditional designs.

Its virtually silent running also means it could be located far closer to living spaces without disruption or annoyance, one of the biggest issues with older wind turbines at present.

The screw-like shape also makes the turbine technically superior to its windmill-like counterparts. The design means that the turbine automatically turns to face the wind, which results in a far higher yield than traditional turbines in the same wind conditions, with 1,500 kilowatt-hour of energy at wind speeds of 5m a second.

Mieremet said that the energy yield is a remarkable 80% of the total theoretically possible, as opposed to the rather pitiful 25% managed by traditional turbines.

This statistic shocked even the designers when it came to light. Not being able to believe what they were seeing, Liam F1’s developers tested the turbine more than 50 times before they were satisfied that the impressive results were for real.

In an age of spiralling fuel prices, any technology that can keep costs down without affecting quality of life is going to be highly prized, and the Liam F1 could prove to be immensely popular.

If combined with a solar panel, the company even believes that the turbine could make households entirely self-sufficient.

The Archimedes engineer Richard Ruijtenbeek explained: “When there is wind you use the energy produced by the wind turbine, when the sun is shining you use the solar cells to produce the energy.”

Although only formally announced today, The Archimedes has already received orders for more than 7,000 of the Liam F1 turbines, with requests coming from 14 different countries around the world.

It seems that this urban wind turbine could rapidly become a familiar sight in cities everywhere.


Images courtesy of The Archimedes.


Startups 100: Factor picks its favourites

On Friday, the 2014 UK Startups 100 list was announced; a curated collection of the 100 best new start-up businesses in the UK.

From environmental innovations and gourmet food to luxury shopping and craft beer, the list covers start-ups in pretty much every field. It shows how technology is bringing new approaches to old industries, and creating whole new solutions to modern life.

Here we profile some of our favourites from the winning 100.

bio-bean (96)

bio-bean is an eco-friendly start-up that was founded in January 2013 by Arthur Kay and Benjamin Harrison. The company collects used coffee grounds from a network of wholesalers and coffee shops based across London, and converts it into a biofuel using a unique, patent-protected method. Expect to be hearing a lot more from these guys as time goes on.


Reviveaphone (84)

Launched in 2012 by 21 year old Oliver Murphy, Reviveaphone is a DIY kit to rescue your phone if it gets damaged by water. The product is set to find its way into stores shortly, having been successfully funded through the BBC’s investment entertainment programme Dragon’s Den.


Enclothed (82)

Founded in October 2012 by Dana Zingher and Levi Young, Enclothed is an online personal stylist service targeted squarely at men. After creating a profile with the company, Enclothed send you three outfits that they think you’ll like. You try them on and send back anything you don’t want, avoiding the hassle of late night shopping or, horror of horrors, a shopping centre dash on a Saturday.


LOVESPACE (79)

Dubbed “cloud storage for your physical things”, LOVESPACE provides storage on a box-by-box basis, avoiding the need to rent a complete unit and the potential of Storage Wars-esque hell. Instead you book online and your items are picked up for free and stored in a climate-controlled space with heavy security. Once you want your stuff back, all you’ll need to do is log on and let the company know, and they’ll return it to you. Founded by Brent Akker, the man behind Streetcar, Europe’s largest car-sharing club, the company has seen major growth since its launch in August 2012.


BeerBods (65)

Matt Lane, founder of BeerBods, is on a mission to get the people of the UK “drinking better beer, with an online beer club that combines a subscription service with an online community providing info about the chosen brew. Every 12 weeks a new pack of 12 arrives, and everyone who’s signed up to BeerBods drinks on per week and compares notes online. Not sure we’d manage that level of restraint! The company holds the record for the most successful campaign ever on equity funding site Crowdcube.


Steer (50)

Coding is a really useful skill, but it takes ages to learn, right? Not any more, thanks to Steer, which was founded in December 2012 to teach people valuable coding skills in only 5 days. Founder Amelia Humfress got the idea when teaching herself to code, and the result is a training centre that believes learning to code is simple. Most of Steer’s courses are on HTML, CSS and Javascript, although user experience, data visualisation and Ruby on Rails are also covered.


EVRYTHNG (16)

Internet of things-based start-up EVRYTHNG is on a mission to give inanimate object internet connectivity. The company lets retailers create profiles for their products, which users can then view in real-time to get up-to-date information about their offline object. The potential applications for this are practically endless.