How fish can make wind farms more efficient

June 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

On the front lines of combating climate change is Caltech aeronautic and bio-engineering professor Dr. John Dabiri. Searching for energy sustainability solutions, he’s taking cues from some simple animals.

“The name of the game here is how you generate energy and how you consume it,” Dabiri told “TechKnow.” “And in biological systems—whether it’s a school of fish in the ocean, a flock of birds, or just a plant growing in a field—they’ve come across ways to very efficiently generate energy and to consume it efficiently as well. So our goal is to use concepts from physics to extract how they do that and apply it to systems like wind energy and underwater vehicles.”

The common wind turbines seen around the world producing energy are the large, three-bladed propeller type. But Dabiri is re-thinking their size, shape, and overall effectiveness.

“The challenge you see in wind energy is that an individual wind turbine—although it might be very efficient—creates a very choppy air behind it,” he says. “One of the challenges we have on a wind farm then is to arrange them to deal with that turbulence.”

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