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LEAD: Wind turbines are getting a redesign at the University of Virginia…inspired by the way palm trees withstand storms.
Randy Atkins: The idea is to make very light weight wind turbines, that can bend with the wind…and make them extremely tall.
Eric Loth: The higher you go in altitude, the higher the wind speeds are.
Randy Atkins: Eric Loth, chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering at U-V-A, says his team’s new design only has two blades, rather than the usual three.
Eric Loth: That makes the whole rotor lighter. You want to reduce that mass to reduce the cost of the energy.
Randy Atkins: Loth says this novel concept requires adaption to changing wind forces using a sophisticated computerized control system that makes these wind turbines...
Eric Loth: …the world’s largest robots.
Randy Atkins: Loth’s team is now testing a ten story prototype in Colorado, with the goal of making it 5-times bigger…and the world’s largest wind turbine. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.