The Futuristic Dutch Windwheel Could Be Your New Home

September 4, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Artist's impression of the Dutch Windmill
Photo credit: Dutch Windwheel Corporation

A futuristic wind wheel in the Netherlands will provide homes, tourism, and panoramic views all courtesy of sustainable energy.

Dutch engineers have released plans for a futuristic windmill— one that will incorporate 72 apartments, office space, a seven-story hotel, and a restaurant. The giant wind turbine, called the Dutch Windwheel, will triple-function as living quarters, a tourism attraction, and a sustainable power source for the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The central area of the building will host a generator that harnesses wind to produce electricity. However, unlike traditional windmills, the Electrostatic Wind Energy Converter (EWICON), doesn’t rely on moving parts. Instead, EWICON produces electricity by manipulating charged water droplets.

Thin horizontal tubes, called electrosprayers, will stretch across the center of the wind wheel spraying positively charged water molecules into the air. The wind will then push the water droplets against the beams’ high-voltage electric field, leaving the structure with a negative charge.

This negative charge will form an electric current similar to the workings of a thunderstorm — negative charge builds up in the thunderclouds until a lightning strike dispels it to the ground. The electricity will then be converted from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) to be used in the Windwheel.

To supply the electrosprayers with water, the Windwheel will feature pumps that draw water directly out of the canal. Sea water or collected rainwater could also successfully operate the system. Finally, the design will include solar panels to generate additional energy.

The design itself looks something like a massive, futuristic-looking loop de loop of a rollercoaster. The inner ring will accommodate the hotel, apartments, and a restaurant, while the outer ring will be somewhat like a Ferris wheel. Tourists will be able to ride from the top of the structure to below the canal’s surface, all while learning about the Netherland’s efforts to harness its sustainable resources.

Passengers of the Windwheel will be offered a 3D interactive cinema experience highlighting the history of Dutch water management. Perhaps the most mind-blowing design element is the “smart wall” feature — augmented-reality touchscreen glass panels that add a virtual layer of information to the panoramic views.

In an interview with Popular Science, developer Lennart Graaff said, “We wanted a 100-percent-sustainable building that serves as a platform for all kinds of innovations.” Right now, the tabletop prototype of the Dutch Windwheel only produces 12.5 milliwatts, which isn’t even enough power to energize a lightbulb. However, a 570-foot version of the creation could produce 1 megawatt of electricity.

If all goes according to plan, the architectural marvel could embellish the Rotterdam skyline by the early 2020s.

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