In a video, YouTuber Robert Murray-Smith presents wind turbine prototypes that are modelled on nature. The rotor blades of the 3D-printed vertical axis wind turbines feature small protrusions that are modelled on the fins of humpback whales.
According to Murray-Smith, these so-called tubercles, wave-shaped protrusions on the fin, have several advantages: they increase efficiency at low wind speeds, reduce noise and vibrations and ensure a better energy yield even in turbulent wind conditions. The latter is particularly relevant for urban use.
In tests with a fan, a 3D-printed rotor with tubercles achieved around 50 percent higher rotational speed than a smooth design. Murray-Smith sees this as confirmation that nature is a suitable model for innovations in the use of wind power.
The YouTuber makes the 3D print files for the replica whale fin available for free on Thingiverse. According to Murray-Smith, the tubercle blades can be easily reprinted and combined to create wind turbine rotors.