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Insect-Inspired Flexible Wind Turbine Blades Offer Greater Versatility and Efficiency

In an experiment, the researchers tested the flexible blades – not too hard and not too floppy – together with the standard hard blades and the way too flexible blades. The results showed a lot of promise.


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With climate change scientists saying that we have already reached a dangerous global temperature threshold, researchers in the renewable energy sector are working twice as hard to beat the number one contributor of the global warming phenomenon: our carbon footprint. And it appears that their efforts are already bearing fruit in all type of renewables.

One of the most recent is in the wind turbines, through a technology developed by researchers from the Sorbonne Université and École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers-ParisTec. They made a wind turbine with flexible blades that increase efficiency up to 35%.

It takes inspiration from the flexible wings of insects. The idea came to the researchers when they noticed that most insects have flexible wings. When they dug deep into this discovery, they found that there are already research indicating that flexible wings provide creatures such as the dragonfly more power without expending more energy, as compared with inflexible wings.

Source: Giphy
Source: Giphy

This, in turn, led them to create wind turbine blades that were flexible, apart from the conventional hard blades.

Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science
Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Science

In an experiment, the researchers tested the flexible blades – not too hard and not too floppy – together with the standard hard blades and the way too flexible blades. The results showed a lot of promise.

As expected, the hard-bladed turbines performed well, with the floppy blades almost not working at all in terms of efficiency. But the flexible blades with the right amount of hardness and floppiness emerged to be approximately 35% more efficient than the standard hard-blade turbine.

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Moreover, it was also found that such turbines worked over a wider range of wind conditions over standard turbines. Meaning that they would just turn during weak winds and not as susceptible to wear and tear during strong winds.

For now, the blades are proven to have the advantage of increased versatility and efficiency, but researchers still have to look if the product is for commercial use.

Source: TechXplore

 

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