Shape changing wind turbine blades can boost efficiency and longevity

prototype morphing helicopter rotor blade
Researchers at both San Diego State University and the University of Bristol in England have been researching the feasibility of using shape changing, or morphing blades on wind turbines.   By changing shape depending on the wind condition, they’re finding that they can make wind turbines more efficient plus longer lasting.     The shape changing blade quickly adapts to the wind instead of fighting it – when the wind blows too hard, for example, it puts a great deal of stress on the blade, and by changing the shape of the turbine blade, the stresses can be reduced.

The morphing blades being prototyped at the University of Bristol use composite fibers – the direction and tension of the fibers can be controlled by an electric signal, which then rapidly flexes the blade to change it to the best and most efficient shape.    The University of San Diego group has completed testing on blades made out of materials similar to urethane rubber that allows the blade to flex and bend to reach the best shape to get as much energy out of the wind as possible.

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