My Clean Break column today takes a look at Toronto-based WhalePower Corp., which believes it has a better way to make blades for wind turbines and fans. The idea is to design the blades with bumps or “tubercles” on their leading edge, similar to what you see in nature on humpback whale flippers. There’s been steady progress on the wind turbine side, but WhalePower is taking advantage of the much shorter product design cycle for industrial fans. It has already signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with the largest industrial ventilation fan maker in Canada, Envira-North, which plans to launch a line of fans based on the unusual design at the end of April. Stephen Dewar, vice-president of business development at WhalePower, believes the increased performance (up to 20 per cent more efficient), reduced noise, and better handling of air with the fan design will go a long way toward demonstrating why the tubercle design will also work for wind turbine blades. The thinking is that wind turbines equipped with these blades can tap much lower wind speeds because the bumps on the blades dramatically delay stall.
It’s an interesting story to follow.