Gizmag's pages are filled with clever examples of biomimicry, and why not, evolution is after all the biggest, oldest and most successful design house we know of. Today's lesson is being given by insects like bumblebees, hummingbirds, and dragonflies, whose efficient wing flapping capabilities are being harnessed by Californian start-up Green Wavelength in an effort to produce more efficient wind turbines.
Vertical axis windmills have been with us in one form or another for more than 1000 years. Designs have undergone constant improvement (including more examples of biomimicry using the whale as inspiration), but the efficiency of current wind turbines peaks at around 30%. To be fair, Betz's law, says that it's not theoretically possible to capture more than 59.3 percent of the kinetic energy in wind, but there is still some room for improvement.
Green Wavelength's 19-foot, aluminum and carbon fiber prototype known as XBee was unveiled last month at the Perfect Pitch 2009 entrepreneur conference in California. It can be mounted both vertically and horizontally and the blades move in a figure eight motion.
It's not yet clear what level of improvement Green Wavelength's radical departure from the norm will bring, with data yet to be published on its effectiveness.
“Breakthrough ideas are often the result of the convergence of seemingly disparate concepts,” noted Sabri Sansoy, the CEO of Green Wavelength and aerospace veteran, “and we are committed to finding ways of applying nature’s solutions to our man made energy problems.”
More development and research is planned with the aim of eventually producing home and business units up to 10kW, and like solar solutions and other examples of small scale wind generators we've seen, it is a direction that makes a whole lot of sense when addressing our energy needs.