Whale Power: More Efficient Fan Blades Mimic Humpback Fins
Tannis Toohey/Toronto Star
Using "a million years of field tests" to their advantage, Toronto-based WhalePower Corp. is using the fins of humpback whales to help design a better fan (and, hopefully, wind turbine). After US scientists discovered that the tubercles -- the little bumps on humpback fins -- result in 32 percent less drag and an 8 percent rise in lift when compared to a smooth fin. That means a fan blade that "makes the fan quieter, more efficient, and better at pushing down the air," according Monica Bowden, chief executive officer of Envira-North, the company that has licensed the WhalePower design.
She estimates fans incorporating WhalePower's design use 20 percent less energy and are better at moving the air around, and now that fans are incorporating the design, WhalePower will continue to work to apply the idea to wind turbines; it's a slower process because of the certification and testing required with the clean power generators. Still, Stephen Dewar, WhalePower's co-founder, is confident it'll come to fruition: "When it comes down to it, we've got the best blades ever made." ::The Star via ::Core77