In the past we’ve seen biomimetic wind turbines inspired by whale fins and species of trees, however now designers are looking to extinct animal species to create next-generation turbines. Engineering giant Siemens has unveiled three designs for aerodynamic wind turbine blades based on the biology of dinosaurs!
The first turbine blade is called “DinoTails” and it is designed to resemble the back plates of a Stegosaurus. The design features increased blade surface area, which increases the lift and thrust of the turbine. It is also quieter – according to New Scientist, “when air flows from above and below the trailing edge of a turbine blade meet, they create turbulence, which can increase drag and make it noisy. The DinoTails’ serrated edge breaks up that flow, reducing the turbulence.”
The Siemens team have also created a snow-shovel-shaped device, which they have dubbed “DinoShells”. This design extends the blade down to the point at which it joins the main shaft, making the turbine more efficient. The final design has been given the non-Dinosaur designation of “a vortex generator” (may we suggest Vortexosaurs?). It features small fins that force the air to stay in contact with the top of the blade for longer, which in turn increases lift.
According to Siemens, the idea behind these prehistoric prototypes is to increase the energy output of old turbines by up to 1.5%. While that may not sound like a large amount, it could increase the output of a wind farm, such as the 125MW Altamont Pass Wind Farm in California by enough to meet the energy needs of an extra 2500 households.
Speaking to New Scientist, chief engineer at the US National Wind Technology Center Paul Veers said: “If you can add one to two percent to a big number, then it makes a difference.”
Siemens have also stated that they will installing the dino-attachments to give a 3.15 megawatt boost to the Bison 2 and 3 Wind Energy Centers in North Dakota.
Via New Scientist
Lead photo by EnergyND