Did you know that there is a type of turbine with a spherical or semi-spherical shape that is used to convert the kinetic energy of a fluid into mechanical energy? These are spherical turbines, which have an advantage over the others: they are more adaptable to variations in fluid flow, which makes them more suitable for applications where the fluid flow can be irregular or variable, such as in urban areas.

An example of this is the O-Wind turbine, a spherical-structure turbine that won an award in 2018 for its innovative design. The good news is that, like any patent, it is possible to reproduce it for non-commercial and/or academic purposes. Therefore, you can find 3D models ready to download and print on a 3D printer.

One of the models available is the one created by Thinking and Tinkering on thingiverse, a 3D design sharing platform. You can download it for free and print it as big or small as your printer allows. In addition, you will need two 608 bearings (common in skateboard wheels) or you can also print them.

Spherical turbine printed in PLA filament on a home 3D printer.

The turbine structure is based on a triangular-based tetrahedral design, with sides formed by interlocking asymmetrical triangles. The triangular layers form wind tunnels that cause the turbine to rotate in a single direction, even in turbulent wind conditions.

Printing your own spherical turbine can be a fun and educational way to learn how to harness wind energy efficiently and sustainably.