Research

Humpback-Inspired Turbine Blades

The bumps–or tubercles–on the edge of a humpback whale’s fins have important hydrodynamic effects on its swimming. Here dye is used to visualize flow over a hydrofoil with tubercle-like protuberances–a sort of artificial whale fin. Dye released from the peaks and troughs of the protuberances flows straight back in a narrow line before breakdown to turbulence. But the dye released from ports on the shoulders of the protuberances twists and spirals into vortices. At angle of attack, these vortices are stronger. They may help keep flow from separating on the upper side of a whale’s fin. (Photo credits: SIDwilliams, H. Johari)

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