Lancaster students scoop international James Dyson award

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Postgraduate students of Lancaster University Nicolas Orellana, 36, and Yaseen Noorani, 24 have won the acclaimed international James Dyson award. The International Innovation MSc students have claimed the £30,000 prize for their innovative O-Wind turbine design after their success in the award’s UK equivalent earlier in the year.

The O-Wind turbine allows for both horizontal and vertical winds to be captured, without the need for any steering. In other words, it can capture wind travelling in any direction and has the potential to transform how people living in urban areas generate electricity. Mr Orellana stated that he was inspired after studying NASA’s Mars tumbleweed rover, a type of inflatable ball which has been designed to autonomously bounce across the surface of Mars.

Beating entrants from 27 other countries, including a device to help diagnose malaria and a chair which provides ease of access and mobility to disabled air travellers, the winners hope that the turbines can be installed onto the side of large buildings or on balconies in cities, where wind speeds are at their highest. Currently in discussion with investors, Orellana and Noorani hope to secure a deal that will enable the O-Wind Turbine to be mass-produced and go to market.

The James Dyson Award was created to celebrate and challenge students and recent graduates across the globe to ‘design something that solves a problem.’ Ran by the James Dyson Foundation, the award has previously been given to designs such as the ‘Titan Arm’ a type of bionic arm in 2013 to students from the University of Pennsylvania and ‘MOM’, a portable inflatable incubator in 2014 to James Roberts of Loughborough University.

As well as the cash prize, Orellana and Noorani have also won £5,000 for their department in the University. Head of the Engineering Department Professor Claudio Paoloni said about the design, ‘I wish to congratulate Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani for their outstanding award. We are delighted to have been able to support the fabrication of a prototype for their innovative wind turbine concept with our state of the art facilities in additive manufacturing and expertise in renewable energy. This fully represents the ethos of our growing Engineering Department, which includes within our aims, the ability to offer our students cutting-edge technologies in support of their creativity and enthusiasm.’

Sir James Dyson called the O-Wind turbine an ‘ingenious concept’ and went on to say, ‘Designing something that solves a problem is an intentionally broad brief. It invites talented, young inventors to do more than just identify real problems. It empowers them to use their ingenuity to develop inventive solutions. O-Wind Turbine does exactly that. It takes the enormous challenge of producing renewable energy and using geometry it can harness energy in places where we’ve scarcely been looking – cities.’

Speaking to SCAN earlier in the year, Orellana stated that the most valuable thing he has taken from the competition was validation and attention from the media which has given their design a platform in the design world. He said, ‘When you present your ideas to a business and tell them you did something great, it is difficult for them to believe you unless you have evidence of it. The James Dyson Award gave us exactly what we needed. Now, it is also easier to find people thanks to the network we are creating.’