by Anindayu Rizna Pradetha
When you think of the Netherlands, you can’t help but think of its precious windmills. But believe it or not, the Dutch weren’t the first to invent these simple machinery. So, then, how did it become the centerpiece of the Netherlands?
Well, it all began in Greek where the Greek Tesibius first experimented with the idea of using wind energy instead of water to drive a mill. Around 1180, the first rotating windmills, the post mills, were documented in Flanders. These mills were a technical revolution because they allowed the miller to follow the wind by turning the upper part of the mill. During the 1200s and 1300s, the post mill spread around Europe like a wildfire. In the 1600s the Dutch became famous for its windmills, all thanks to a man named Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest. He had a brilliant idea to add a crankshaft to a windmill. This crankshaft allowed an up and down movement, thus making it faster to saw wood than by using a hand sawing team. He obtained a patent for his invention in 1593. Coincidentally, in 1602 the Dutch East India Company was planning to explore the East Indies. As a result, the demand for wood to build ships grew explosively during the decades to follow.
Fast forward to today, and the Dutch have gone above and beyond with their innovation of a new type of windmill that is well suited for modern day. Introducing the bladeless windmill, a new technology, that takes wind energy to another level. Designed by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and installed at the Delft University of Technology, the Electrostatic Windenergy Convertor, or EWICON for short, is a breakthrough wind convertor that transforms wind energy into electricity without the use of moving mechanical parts.
So how exactly does the EWICON work? The EWICON uses the movement of electrically charged water droplets, to generate power. Basically, the more wind makes contact to these water droplets, the more electricity it will produce. Still confused? Watch this video to get a better understanding of how the bladeless windmill works.
Unlike its older brother, the good ol’ blade windmill, which is prone to damages from storms and requires tedious maintenance, the EWICON promises little wear and tear, a reduction in maintenance costs, and absolutely zero noise pollution or shadow casting. Although the concept is still in the development state and the structure erected at the university is only a prototype, it has the potential to completely change how we view wind energy today.