Underwater turbines are one of the many alternative energy sources, a technology which has seriously challenged scientists since the beginning, due to the low velocity associated with many tidal flows and the difficulty of extracting useful energy from low speed flows using current designs.
This is about to come to an end as scientists found inspiration in the ocean’s largest mammals.
Mark Murray, a Naval Academy engineering professor, described how they “copied” nature’s incredible ability of adapting to various mediums, stating: “We designed a novel blade modification for potential turbine performance improvement, which was inspired by humpback whale flippers, with the addition of tubercles, or bumps, to the leading edge of each blade.”
The modified blades have been proven to extract energy more effectively at low speeds. Tests showed that the blades’ performance did not decrease at high flow speeds nor did the mechanical complexity of the turbine increased.
The research applicability could be extended to turbine designs that convert low velocity tidal flow energy into useful electricity more effectively and make them more economically feasible to set up.
The team presented their findings yesterday, at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting in Long Beach, CA. (ANI).
[via Sify News]