One of the keys to owls being great hunters is their ability to swoop down on prey without making a noise. Whether a wing is part of an owl, a plane, or a turbine blade, the sound it makes has most to do with its trailing edge where turbulence causes sound.
Scientists at Virginia Tech’s Stability Wind Tunnel are world leaders in the study of turbine blade aeroacoustics. Research into quieting wind turbines recently led to the study of owl wing aerodynamics and design changes to reduce low-frequency turbine noise. While wind turbine noise hasn’t yet been fully studied, the controversial problem of “wind turbine syndrome” (WTS) is purportedly being experienced by people living close to wind turbine installations.
In the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel, researchers are conducting acoustic tests in acoustic and anechoic chambers, rooms insulated from exterior noise and designed to completely absorb sound and electromagnetic waves and reflections.
Redesigning and Quieting Wind Turbines
While wind power is wildly successful, of course, improvements are always possible, and wind turbine manufacturers are researching and designing new blades to solve a number of problems, including noise emission.