Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Wind Energy and Fish

PostedApril 25, 2010

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Randy Atkins: Wind turbines are usually spaced far apart, so they don’t interfere with each other.  But John Dabiri, a CalTech engineer, says a more compact arrangement might not only save space, but allow the turbines to work together.  He points to schooling fish.

John Dabiri: As they swim they generate vortices, these swirling currents in their wake, and those vortices will interact to help reduce the energy requirements of the whole school of fish.

Randy Atkins: Computer models show how to precisely place wind turbines for a similar effect.

John Dabiri: As the wind is flowing past one of these wind turbines in certain directions it’s actually accelerated and directed toward the neighbors.

Randy Atkins: Dabiri says this could allow wind farms closer to cities, where electricity is needed most.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.


The engineers are building an experimental wind farm to test these ideas this summer.