What Do Owls Have That Wind Turbines Don’t?

Silent Wings

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The Ability To Go Unnoticed

Noise is a problem with wind turbines and scientists are studying owl wings to find a solution.

Owls are probably the quietest birds in nature and it turns out their wing feathers are rather special.

Peake and scientists at Virginia Tech, Lehigh University and Florida Atlantic University carried out the research, an they say:

“No other bird has this sort of intricate wing structure,”

Researchers examining owl feathers found downy microscopic coverings and a porous elastic fringe on the trailing edge that scatters sound without affecting aerodynamics, the University of Cambridge said Monday. They mimicked the structure with 3D- printed plastic that can be applied to wind turbines, plane propellers or even computer fans to muffle their noise.

“Many owls, primarily large owls like barn owls or great gray owls, can hunt by stealth, swooping down and capturing their prey undetected,” said Cambridge’s Nigel Peake, who led the study. “While we’ve known this for centuries, what hasn’t been known is how or why owls are able to fly in silence.”

Wind tunnel tests on a turbine using the material produced 10 decibels less noise than without, the university said in a statement. That may help wind-power generators to increase their electricity output as it would allow them to run turbines at faster speeds without worrying about increasing noise levels.

Get more details in the original article.

Image source   Photo: Bill Pound / www.greatbritishlife.co.uk 

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