Whale Power: More Efficient Fan Blades Mimic Humpback Fins

WhalePower: Using biomimicry from humpback tubercles to design wind turbines

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.

WhalePower's wind turbine

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

See also: TreeHugger Picks: Biomimicry in Product Design, Video: Janine Benyus with 12 Sustainable Design Concepts Using Biomimicry, and Hang on Tight: Biomimicry Explained in Lay Terms

Related Content on Treehugger.com