Wind turbines are not very efficient when there is no wind. However, researchers have developed a technology, inspired by whales, that could improve things.
Biomimicry is a word defined as “an innovation and engineering approach“. He is inspired by the forms, materials, properties, processes and functions of living beings.
Humpback whales have long inspired wind turbine manufacturers. These marine animals have small bumps on their pectoral fins that gave researchers the idea of applying them to the design of blades for rotating machines, such as wind turbines. This innovation, directly inspired by humpback whales, could allow wind turbines to gain 20% efficiency in light winds.
Biomimicry and wind turbines.
Wind turbine manufacturers have already taken inspiration from nature to make serrated combs attached to the trailing edges of the blades. They have been designed to reduce aerodynamic noise and are inspired by the wings of nocturnal birds of prey, which fly almost inaudibly. In the case of humpback whales, it was researchers at Harvard University who came up with an innovative design inspired by this, but still for wind turbines.
Researchers have developed an innovation that increase the efficiency of all rotating machinesi.e. fans, turbines and wind turbines.
To do this, they looked at the pectoral fins of humpback whales and noticed that they had small growths called tubercles. They are the only mammals that have them. These animals, which can weigh up to 30 tons, are capable of reaching speeds of 25 km/h, and can even jump out of water.
Something that we wanted to reproduce in rotating machines, imagining that its growths on the fins had a great influence. They then created a mathematical model to design an innovative technique that they could apply to wind turbines.
After several years of work, a team of three researchers, made up of Frank Fish, an American biologist, Philip Watts, a Canadian engineer, and Stephen Dewar, a Canadian businessman, created the company WhalePower to evaluate and develop the practical applications of this Discovery.
They conducted wind tunnel experiments with model aircraft wings and blades and found that the dimples on the flaps improved the aerodynamics of the blades and reduced noise-producing turbulence. By channeling the airflow from the humps, they manage to solve two problems with the blades: poor performance in low winds and the noise generated.
They discovered that a shovel equipped with these tubers could produce 20% more electricity with light and noiseless winds.
Once the invention was patented, they licensed it to other companies and then expanded their line to include industrial fans and even computer fans.
More information: www.whalepowercorp.wordpress.com