From dragonfly wings to micro wind turbines

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Research in Japan and Italy on how dragonfly wings react to air currents could soon Dragonfly wind turbine allow on-site wind power to be used in low-wind regions.

Nippon Bunri University professor Akira Obata has built a micro wind turbine that works like the distinctive corrugated surface of a dragonfly’s wing and could generate power in very low wind speeds – such as the average Japanese wind speed of 2-4 mps.

Meanwhile, Italy’s Enel Green Power is testing a 55 kW dragonfly-inspired small wind turbine designed by architect Renzo Piano. Testing began in October 2013 and serial production is planned for this year.

In both cases low wind speed conditions were the impetus for the design. Obata’s goal is to develop micro wind turbines that will generate power anywhere in Japan, not just in the windy coastal regions or offshore. His prototypes have generated 4.6 W at wind speeds of 5 mps, while in two months of testing, Enel’s turbine generated over 1200 KWh in wind speeds of 2 mps.

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