Industrial fans that mimic humpback flippers

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.

6 thoughts on “Industrial fans that mimic humpback flippers”

  1. I’m glad that they found a market where they could make a contribution right away.

  2. Kinda. Golf balls do the opposite. This is trying to catch as much air as possible, golf balls are trying to create a good slipstream. Same idea behind it though.

  3. I have been following this for awhile as well and it does look rather interesting and does make sense. It’s nice to see thinking outside of the box.

    On a lighter side note, did anyone else notice that the other two co-founders names are “Dr. Fish” and “Dr. Watts”? 🙂 I could not help but chuckle (just a little).

  4. Your break design is igneous and fun too. Not sure how can really produce greater friction ferris wanli in the midst of high speed and perhaps can change the way you can produce higher performance. But hey there is a start for everything.

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