Biomimicry & aerodynamics:
The challenge is the same in many industries, particularly in aeronautics or in the car industries: the future of the sector depends largely on its ability to reduce the environmental impact of its technologies, particularly on CO2 emissions.
An essential lever: improving aerodynamic finesse. Aerostructures, bodywork, airfoils, propellers and blades: biomimicry is an ideal tool of technological design to review or improve industrial methods and approaches concerning aerodynamics.
Many species of birds, insects or even aquatic animals have amazing movement abilities.
They are juggling effort, speed and endurance. Biomimicry, which is not at its first attempt in this area, seeks to understand how these forms and coatings present in nature can enlighten the adoption of new design approaches for industrial structures and components. The goal: reduce drag, improve aerodynamic finesse, reduce turbulence vortices, stabilize movement, reduce friction,...
The aeronautics industry is one of the most advanced in terms of bio-inspiration: winglets inspired by large raptors (-4% consumption), aerodynamic varnishes inspired by the skin of sharks (-2% consumption). The use cases are already numerous.
There are still many opportunities to explore.
Here is a particularly striking example.
The humpback whale is a cetacean of impressive size: 13 to 15 meters long and nearly 40 tons.
Despite this, it is a particularly agile marine animal, capable of hunting herring or salmon: it is capable of sharp turns to trap or chase its prey.
This size vs. agility duality surprises marine biologists. They discover that part of the mystery lies in the humpback whale's anatomical features.
Indeed, it owes its agility to the tubercles present on the leading edges of its fins. A peculiarity that defies common sense: how can such a deformed and non-smooth surface be so hydro- and aerodynamic?
Since then, the aerodynamic effects of these protuberances have been widely studied:
Tubercles reduce drag by almost 8%. They also accompany the flow of air so as to delay the stall and to increase its angle by almost 40%! Others advantages, although not demonstrated to date, have been mentioned: reduction of noise pollution and increase in lift.
Diagrams produced by the Bioxegy team, as part of an infrastructure project carried out with one of our partners. The tubercles of the fins, placed upstream of the phalanges on the leading edge, allow, among other things, to stabilize and group together the disturbing vortices.
©Bioxegy | Right diagram partly based on figures from: True & William, the whalebone whales of the western North Atlantic, 1904
This discovery has since led to many bio-inspired technologies:
The ZIPP company, expert manufacturer of bicycle wheels, opted for a design that reproduces the protrusions of the fin to improve the aerodynamics and stability of the whole the structure : a patented technology that has significantly reduced the drag experienced by the wheel.
In the United States, one of the experts who highlighted the aerodynamic phenomena created by tubers launched the company WhalePower.
It has designed a bio-inspired wind turbine blade that uses the principle of protrusion on the leading edge to improve the performance of the airfoil. Result: the wind turbine thus equipped has a 20% higher yield and is activated by weaker wind forces.
Other promising prospects for biomimicry in industrial sectors