The IMPLUX turbine's design captures at least 85% of the air funneled into it, accelerating and forcing it through a horizontal turbine blade. The design is also safe for wildlife, especially birds.  (Source: Katru Eco-Energy)

The ACE blood turbine could be used for pacemakers, drug delivery systems, electronic monitoring devices and any number of other small medical gadgets.  (Source: Alois Pfenniger, ARTORG Cardiovascular Engineering, University of Bern)
The harnessing of fluid dynamics can provide (nearly) free energy, but not always without consequences.

Turbine power most commonly comes from two sources: water and wind. The underlying physics of power generation can be fascinating. For instance, many power workers and electrical engineering students may be aware, but the average layman has no idea that a new turbine must be perfectly synced up to an existing power grid before being connected to it. If the poles are even a few degrees off, the moment the turbine is connected to the grid, every other turbine on the grid will electrically and instantly force it into synchronization, destroying the new unit. This is may be an overly simplistic explanation, but fun nonetheless.

Katru Eco-Energy's (relatively) new wind turbine, however, avoids such catastrophic failure. First dreamt up in 2007 by Katru's founder Varan Sureshan, patented in 2008, and brought to proof-of-concept in 2010, the IMPLUX "fluid dynamic gate" design is a new take on wind-driven turbine power. Rather than relying on large vertical blades, the IMPLUX utilizes a series of circular airfoils that channel virtually all the wind it receives upwards through a horizontally rotating blade assembly.

The IMPLUX is not going to revolutionize air-powered power generation. The units, instead, are designed for aesthetics, efficiency and safety -- their main function would be to supplement a single building's power needs, reducing the drain on the national or local grid. The first production units (slated for production in mid-2012) will likely be 4m in diameter and generation approximately 2KW of electricity. That's enough to power about four modern computers and their monitors on a good, windy day.

Future models may include 4KW and 10KW production potential, likely with a related increase in the diameter of the unit. A video explanation of the physics behind the IMPLUX turbine can be viewed here.

Another new turbine invention is powered not by air, but by liquid. You can find most of these types of turbines in power dams where the flow of water is regulated and used to drive the rotors. However, University of Bern mechanical engineers at ARTORG Cardiovascular Engineering (ACE), a research group at the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, revealed a new, very small turbine at the 6th International Conference on Microtechnologies in Medicine and Biology in early May. This tiny turbine, as one might suspect from previous use of the word cardiovascular, isn't powered by water, but by blood.

The grain-sized generator is meant to harness the pumping power of the heart to power small medical devices. A pumping heart develops approximately 1 to 1.5 watts of hydraulic power. The blood turbine would likely be fixed to the internal thoracic artery and, in tests using common tubes used in replacement surgeries, has generated upwards of 800 microwatts. A modern pacemaker requires in the area of 80 microwatts to function.

While the potency of the power producer cannot be overlooked, neither can the possibly deadly medical side effects. Like almost all vertical turbines, ACE's produces turbulence in the area behind the moving part of the generator. Turbulence in blood can cause coagulation, a byproduct of which are clots. Clots can cause death via embolisms, infarctions and thrombosis, generalized terms for blood clots based on their effect and their location in the body.

With a risk so great, the devices could hardly be installed into living beings without heavy testing. Drugs like heparin or warfarin could be used in conjunction to moderate the blood's tendency to clot behind the turbine, but these blood-thinning drugs come with their own side effects.

Brilliant people are moving forward with fluid-dynamic power generation on many if not all available fronts. The question doesn't seem to be if we can expect these power plants to be ubiquitous in the future, but when.

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