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SUMR turbineThe US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) awarded the three-year grant to a team led by Professor Eric Loth, Chair of the UVA Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The team will use the grant to build a small-scale prototype of a new kind of wind turbine with blades that face downwind and fold together like palm fronds in dangerous weather.

The design is called a Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) – segmented so that the blades can be assembled on site from segments, and ultralight because the blades’ adaptability to the wind flow allows them to have less structural mass. The team includes researchers from the University of Illinois, the University of Colorado, the Colorado School of Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Corporate advisors include Dominion Resources, General Electric, Siemens, and Vestas.

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