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Nathan Alexander Figure 1Adapting the Unique Features of the Owl Wing
Some species of owls have long been investigated for their ability to fly silently. This led to the discovery of several wing attributes that differ from other birds of prey. Trailing edge serrations, a now common wind turbine noise reduction technology, are derived from one of these features – the fringe along the downstream edge of the owl’s wing. A group of researchers from Virginia Tech, Lehigh University, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Cambridge have developed a novel noise reduction technology for airfoils based on another feature – the soft downy coating on the bird’s feathers. Results indicate that this new technology can reduce airfoil noise by up to 10 decibels. Additionally, this concept can be deployed in combination with serrations to further reduce the noise produced by wind turbines.
By W. Nathan Alexander, Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech, USA

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