Wind turbines inspired by owl feathers

Wind turbines inspired by owl feathers

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Researchers from various universities are studying the acoustics of owl flight, to apply its stealth to the design of quieter wind turbines and wind turbines. Many species of owl are able to hunt effectively silently by suppressing their noise at sound frequencies above 1.6 kilohertz, in the range that can be heard by humans.

The team has succeeded - through physical experiments and theoretical modeling - using the owl feather cup as a model to inspire the design of a 3D-printed attachment wing that reduces noise from a wind turbine by remarkable amounts. 10 decibels, without affecting aerodynamics.

They have also investigated how such a design can reduce roughness and drag noise. In particular, trailing edge noise is prevalent in low speed applications and sets its noise level as low as possible. The ability to reduce wing noise has implications beyond wind turbines as it can be applied to other aerodynamic situations, such as noise created by air leaking through car window and door gaps.

The researchers - from Lehigh, Virginia Tech, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Cambridge - specifically examined the velvety upper wing surface of many great owls, a unique physical attribute, even among birds, that contributes to their quiet flight. As seen under a microscope, it consists of hairs that form a structure similar to that of a forest. The hairs initially rise almost perpendicular to the surface of the plume, but then bend in the direction of flow to form a canopy with interconnected barbs at the crossed fibers of their tips.

After realizing that the use of a unidirectional canopy - with the crossed fibers removed - was the most effective they created a 3-D printed plastic accessory consisting of small endings that can be added to a wing. The invention can be adapted to an existing wing design and used in conjunction with other noise reduction strategies to achieve even greater noise suppression.

"The most effective of our designs mimics the soft fibers of an owl's wing, but with the cross fibers removed," says Justin W. Jaworski, author of the research at Leihigh University.


Video: A quick and easy feather pattern (May 2022).