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Whale Fins Shaped Wind Turbine Blades

written by: Raunekk•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 9/29/2009

Learn about a bio-mimicry concept that helps in harnessing the wind energy in a better way.

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    Introduction

    One of the most beneficial ways of increasing the efficiency of a wind turbine is to modify the design of the turbine blades. Although there are already many types of blade designs already in the market, only a few designs have turned out to be useful.

    Whalepower, a Canadian company that uses bio-mimicry, a concept of adapting the designs of nature into developing mechanical machine, has changed the design of the conventional turbine blades from flat smooth blades to a ridged design similar to that of whale fins. The blades of whale power turbine features a series of ridges just like the tubercles or bumps found on the humpback whale fins.

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    Whale Power Turbines

    The whale power turbine uses tubercle technology, inspired from the whales, to harness wind energy. Humpback whales move their fins at a specific angle to achieve a better lift in the water. The tilting of the blades is beneficial only if the steep angle is kept within a particular limit. This means that if the tilt is more a reverse action takes place which leads to stalling, an effect that causes loss in lift. The tubercles on the whale’s fins help to reduce this stalling, thus helping in getting steeper fin angles (8% rise in lift). This not only prevents stalling, but also prevents drag (32% less drag).

    Steeper angled wind blades can be extremely beneficial in generating power, especially in low wind speed. Thus, the blades help in generating more power even in lower wind speeds. Moreover, it has been proved that adding tubercle bumps to the fins helps in pushing the stall angle by 40 percent, making them better at moving the air around. Moreover, experiments on the whale turbine models have also helped in reducing the power usage by 20%.

    These specially designed blades if applied extensively, promises to increase annual electrical production by 20%. One more advantage of these blades is that they greatly help in reducing the noise level. They are also more efficient and more reliable.

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    References & Image Credits

    Popular Mechanics

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/biomimicry-fan-blades-mimic-humpback-fins.php