A North African company has developed what it contends is a paradigm-shifting wind turbine technology based on the flapping of hummingbird wings.
Any potential paradigm shifts are down the road a bit, but based on some remarkable images and new demo videos, the clean energy machine may be the prettiest wind turbine ever invented.
Developed by Tyer Wind, a startup based in Tunisia, the turbine uses biomimicry principles to replicate the mechanical action of hummingbird wings. The design is fundamentally different from standard rotor-based wind turbines because instead of converting linear motion - wind blowing across the land - into a circular motion, it converts it into a figure-eight pattern. Not only is that shape the same as the one hummingbird wings make while the birds hover, but it also generates energy on both the upstroke and the downstroke.
"This is the first time that the motion of the hummingbird wings was mimicked mechanically in a very efficient way," Aouini told Seeker in an email exchange from Tunisia. "This opens new horizons regarding the way electricity could be produced in the future. Major U.S. research centers have extensively worked on the hummingbird's aerodynamic behavior and confirmed that it is more efficient than bladed rotors."
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The Tyer Wind website has plenty of schematics and images of the hummingbird turbine, including videos of an operational prototype up and running on the Tunisian savanna. Wingspan on the prototype is about 12 feet, producing around 450 RPMs in high wind. (Bonus trivia: North American hummingbirds flap their wings 50 times per second.)