More Efficient Helicopter Blades Based on Whale Tubercles

(1) King Philip Regional High School, Wrentham, MA

The goal of this project was to increase the efficiency of the helicopter blades on the Double Horse 9053 RC Helicopter by adding tubercles based off those of a humpback whale. Increases in efficiency were determined by measuring the wind speed of control blades at three different speeds and then comparing these speeds to the wind speeds of tubercle-designed blades. The control blades had no tubercles while the tubercle blades had a set of 8 or 4 tubercles per blade. After analysis of increases in wind speeds based off the control, it was found that the 8-tubercle blades often had an increase in speed. The 4-tubercle blades had a decrease in output. The data supports the idea that the number and placement of tubercles matters. This small-scale experiment shows potential for improvements in the efficiency of full-scale helicopters.

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biomimicry fuel efficiency helicopter blades whale tubercles