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Whale flipper aerodynamics

Whale flipper aerodynamics

T612/0353

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Credit

LAURENS HOWLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAURENS HOWLE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Whale flipper aerodynamics. Computer model showing airflow over a humpback whale pectoral flipper. In wind tunnel tests, the whale flipper showed 8 percent better lift properties than a normal airplane wing, and withstood stall (reduction in lift) at a 40 percent steeper wind angle. Researchers believe this is due to the scalloped and uneven protruberances, known as tubercles, on the flippers leading edge. It is thought that tubercles on humpback whale flippers allow the whale to swim more efficiently through water. Tubercles may one day be designed for new biomimetic (mimicking nature) wings, helicopter blades, propellers and ship rudders.

Release details

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