Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Wind Energy, Thanks to Fish

PostedApril 15, 2012

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Anchor Lede: A problem with tapping wind energy is finding space for those huge turbines. But there may be a solution, thanks to an unlikely source – fish.

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, WTOP News.