Siemens debuted three new biomimetic designs for next-generation wind turbine blades that incorporated lessons in dinosaur biology. Previos biomimetic designs have derived inspiration from whale fins and trees for improved performance.
The “DinoTails” turbine blade resemble the plates that line the back of a Stegosaurus. The increase in blade surface area not only improves the lift and thrust of the DinoTails blade, but also reduces turbulence and thus noise footprint. And as can be seen in the following picture, it also looks rather cute, like a child’s sock puppet dinosaur toy.
Next in line is the “DinoShells” design, a device shaped rather like a snow shovelthat extends the blade down to the point at which it joins the main shaft. This, too, improves efficiency.
Last but not least is Siemen’s “vortex generator.” The only design not named after a dinosaur (we checked; there’s no such species as Vortexor generatorus,) the vortex generator increases lift through the use of small fins that force the air to spend more time in contact with the top of the blade.
The new Siemens biomimetic blade designs are intended for use in old wind turbines. The upgrades will provide up to 1.5% increases in energy output to wind farms like the 125MW Altamont Pass Wind Farm in California. That’s sufficient power to support another 2,500 households.
“If you can add one to two percent to a big number,” said Paul Veers, chief engineer at the US National Wind Technology Center, “then it makes a difference.”
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