Wind Turbine Design According to Insects

One of nature's smallest aerodynamic specialists - insects - have provided a clue to more efficient and robust wind turbine design.

DragonflyDragonfly: Yellow-winged DarterLicense: CC BY-SA 2.5, André Karwath

A research team, lead by Vincent Cognet from Paris-Sorbonne University, has designed new flexible wind turbine blades that produce 35% more power than the equivalent rigid blades. Using biomimicry Cognet's team used flexible insect wings as the basis for their flexible small scale turbine blades. Also the team found that due to the flexible nature of the blades they were able to operate efficiently and robustly over a larger range of wind speeds when compared to rigid blades.

BumblebeeBumblebee: New garden bumblebeeLicense: CC BY-SA 2.5, André Karwath

The next challenge for Cognet's team is to determine if the same efficiency and robustness can be achieved with larger full scale turbines.