The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, recently awarded funding for IGERT faculty and fellows to begin work on a project entitled “A Biomimetic Ultrasonic Whistle for Use as a Bat Deterrent on Wind Turbines.” The collaborative effort that will involve IGERT faculty Paul Sievert, Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi, Elizabeth Dumont, and Matthew Lackner, IGERT Student Fellows Zara Dowling and Daniel Carlson, and Michael Smotherman from Texas A&M University.
The project will focus on design and manufacturing of a biomimetic ultrasonic pulse generator for use as a bat deterrent on wind turbines. The research team will design a whistle-like device emulated based on a bat larynx, mechanically powered via air flow over the wind turbine blade. They will carry out an iterative process of whistle design alternating with laboratory testing on bats to create a series of devices which effectively induce a flight avoidance response for at-risk bat species. Ultimately, their goal is to provide a reliable, cost-effective means of alerting bats to the presence of moving turbine blades, reducing bat mortality at wind facilities, and reducing regulatory uncertainty for wind facility developers.
The grant will fund the project for two years, with DOE providing $250,000, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center supplying $62,500.