Unless they’ve got stake in a big oil company, the most common reasons people have for opposing the installation of wind turbines is the noise pollution and the risk they pose to birds. But a radically redesigned turbine with flapping wings instead of spinning blades might finally solve both of those problems.
Humanity has long borrowed designs and solutions from Mother Nature who’s been honing her creations for eons, and this latest form of biomimicry comes from a company called Tyer Winds who copied the graceful motions of the hummingbird—arguably one of nature’s most skilled flyers.
Instead of three spinning blades that take up a lot of space and need to be installed high off the ground, the Tyer Wind Converter uses a pair of wings, each over five-feet long, that sweep back and forth in a figure-eight motion in the breeze.
The unique design doesn’t generate quite as much power as a similarly sized wind turbine, but it provides other key advantages that could expand where the Tyer Wind Converter can be installed. Not only are the flapping winds quieter, its creator claims they are less prone to being damaged in high wind scenarios. They also pose less of a threat to birds, and thanks to a smaller footprint can be installed in dense urban areas, or packed even tighter in a large wind farm to maximize power output.
But a redesigned wind turbine that makes lots of promises on paper is all but useless if no one can actually install one and take advantage of all those wonderful features. The Tyer Wind Converter isn’t available for sale yet, but its creators have built working prototypes that are currently being tested in real world conditions to see if it can actually deliver on its promised improvements, and most importantly, actually generate enough power to be worth the cost. [Tyer Wind via New Atlas]