Using "a million years of field tests" to their
advantage, Toronto-based WhalePower
is using the fins of humpback whales to help design a better fan (and,
hopefully, wind turbine). After US scientists discovered that the
tubercles -- the little bumps on humpback fins -- result in 32 percent
less drag and an 8 percent rise in lift when compared to a smooth fin.
That means a fan blade that "makes the fan quieter, more efficient, and
better at pushing down the air," according Monica Bowden, chief
executive officer of Envira-North, the company that has licensed the
She estimates fans incorporating WhalePower's design use 20 percent
less energy and are better at moving the air around, and now that fans
are incorporating the design, WhalePower will continue to work to apply
the idea to wind turbines; it's a slower process because of the
certification and testing required with the clean power generators.
Still, Stephen Dewar, WhalePower's co-founder, is confident it'll come
to fruition: "When it comes down to it, we've got the best blades ever
Now I'm wondering how to use the more efficent blade for a prop in a
pedal powered Kayak.