Wind turbine upgrades were inspired by dinosaur shapes

Most wind generators use blades that look kind of like a prop plane's propeller working in reverse, but that's changing based on new aerodynamic research from Siemens. The result is a trio of add-ons for an existing wind turbine's blades, which increases efficiency without costly replacement.

Scoop-like blade extensions called DinoTails are the first of the three upgrades, and increase the lift of the blade while adding a serrated edge that reduces the noise generated by the blade cutting through the air. DinoShells, on the other hand, are snow shovel-shaped scoops that add drive down near where the blade attaches to the main body of the generator. Finally, Vortex Generators are small fins that keep the air in contact with the blade for longer, further increasing lift.

Siemens says that the aerodynamic aids are based on various shapes found on dinosaurs, but just why they thought a dinosaur would be a good source of inspiration for efficient wind coupling isn't clear. Still, when you add together all three upgrades, Siemens claims that the overall efficiency of the wind generator increases by about 1.5 percent. While it may not sound worth the trouble, for a big wind farm like Altamont Pass in California, the improvement is enough to power about 2,500 additional homes on the back of the farm's current output of 125 megawatts.

Currently Siemens is installing the upgrades at the Bison 2 and 3 Wind Energy Centers in North Dakota, where they are expected to pump up the output by 3.15 million watts. Not bad for a design idea that has been 100 million years in the making.

New Scientist, via TreeHugger

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