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Scientists develop bat-repelling whistling wind turbines

16/05/2019
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Despite the many ecological benefits of wind power, there is one recurring environmental issue caused by the turbines. 

The 3D printed "whistles" will create an ultrasonic noise that keeps bats clear of the turbines
(Image via Enercast)

According to a US Geological Survey, hundreds of thousands of bats are being killed each year. Many are killed when they crash into the blades while others actually suffer from the changes in air pressure caused by rotations, which can result in the animals’ lungs exploding.

In order to save these creatures from a gruesome end, scientists from Texas A&M University have developed 3D printed whistles that can be mounted on the turbine blades themselves.

The whistles are modelled after a bat’s larynx, so as they swish through the air, they will create an ultrasonic sound similar to the animals’ natural echolocation signals. 

The sound is inaudible to humans, but will trick bats into avoiding collision with what they think is another member of their species.

“Our approach focuses on producing a sound that bats could easily recognise and locate, thereby making it easier for them to avoid the moving turbine blades,” said A&M Professor Michael Smotherman.

“I’m hopeful that using this neuroethological approach to the design and implementation gives us a better chance for success.”

Past efforts have involved installing loudspeakers to the centre of the turbines, but these requires a power source and often are not loud enough for the sound to travel across the span of the blades.

The researchers have tested playing recordings of their whistles in the field, to see how effective they are in deterring bats. As they develop the technology further, they hope to begin installing them on wind turbine blades.

If successful, this could be a major benefit that eliminates one of the major criticisms of wind turbines.

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Scientists develop bat-repelling whistling wind turbines - Time to read 2 min
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