Tubercle Technology bladesUpdated: 01/19/2013
Wind turbine blades increase efficiency
About the ProductCompany: WhalePower
Product Phase: Under development
Product Type: Wind turbine blades, fans, pumps
Patent Name: Scalloped Wing Leading Edge; Turbine & Compressor Employing Tubercle Leading Edge Rotor Design
Patent Number: US6431498; WO200604201
Patent Search: >>
Product or processWhalePower developed a new fan and wind turbine blade design using Tubercle Technology. This was inspired by the flippers of humpback whales, which have tubercles or bumps on the leading edges.
Challenges solvedCurrent wind turbine blades require steady, high winds to generate electricity. The efficiency of electric fans depends upon how much energy they need to move air.
Differences from existing productsBlades designed using Tubercle Technology are more energy efficient. The wind turbine blades require lower wind speeds, increasing the amount of time and the number of locations where they can actively generate electricity.
The biomimicry storyFrank E. Fish noticed that the leading edge of humpback whale flippers have tubercles or bumps. This didn't make sense to him because it went against the normal way of thinking. Through wind-tunnel tests, Fish realized that with the tubercles on the flipper delay the stall angle by approximately 40%, while increasing lift and decreasing drag.
At the bottom of WhalePower's website, the company gives a nod to nature by recognizing their source of inspiration: "A Million Years Of Field Tests."