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To Prevent Wind Turbines From Killing Birds, Add Blinds?

• Francie Diep via PopSci.com
 

Farzad Safaei's recent invention looks a bit like window frames—complete with Venetian blinds built inside—but it's actually a new wind turbine design.

Safaei, an electrical engineer at the University of Wollongong in Australia, is working on a wind turbine he thinks could be quieter and safer for birds and could be installed between city buildings. He has tested a prototype in a wind tunnel, and the University of Wollongong has signed a deal with Australian engineering company Birdon to build and test a more advanced prototype, to see if it will be commercially viable.

Safaei's design, which he's named PowerWINDows, has vertical blades that move up and down in the wind. The blades create less turbulence around them than conventional, windmill-style turbines do, so engineers can put several of them together in large, flat installations.

In addition, PowerWINDows' blades move more slowly and are more visible than conventional turbines'. Safaei hopes that will discourage birds from flying into them. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 100,000 to 440,000 birds die from flying into turbines every year, though exact numbers are difficult to pin down.

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