These wind turbines were inspired by hummingbirds

May 11, 2017, 8:19 a.m.
Tyer Wind's turbines flap wings instead of rotate blades.
Photo: Tyer Wind

Among the common charges against traditional wind turbines are their noise and the threat they pose to birds. Designing with those complaints in mind, the start-up Tyer Wind came up with a unique-looking turbine that took its cue from the hummingbird.

Tyer Wind's turbine uses two wings instead of the typical three blades. These wings flap in a figure-8 motion, like a hummingbird, producing less energy than the typical turbine, but also creating less noise and, given their size — the wings sweep in an area roughly 12 square feet — take up less space in the sky as well. The smaller size means more of the machines could be grouped together, so even though the machines may produce less energy than a more traditional turbine, they may end up more efficient. Tyer Wind also claims its machines are also more durable than typical turbines in high wind scenarios.

All of this assumes the turbines work as marketed, however. Tyer Wind is testing its biomimicking turbines in real-world conditions, but no large-scale models have been produced yet. As such, it remains to be seen if these hummingbird-inspired turbines have what it takes. In the meantime, you can watch the company's super-dramatic promotional video — it has a woman playing the violin in a field! — to see the turbines in action.