Aussie researchers try to silence noisy wind

Scientists at an Australian university are hoping to make wind turbines quieter. Acoustics researchers are investigating the causes of wind turbine noise to look for a solution to the ‘swishing’ […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Scientists at an Australian university are hoping to make wind turbines quieter.

Acoustics researchers are investigating the causes of wind turbine noise to look for a solution to the ‘swishing’ noise they make, that resembles the sound of wind whooshing past aircraft wings.

Research leader Dr Con Doolan, at the University’s School of Mechanical Engineering said: “We know generally what causes that noise – as the turbulent air flows over the sharp edge of the blade it radiates sound much more efficiently, so the noise can be heard at some distance.

“What we don’t yet understand, however, is exactly how that turbulence and blade edge, or boundary layer, interact and how that makes the noise louder.”

Once they work this out, they can focus on controlling the “annoying” noise, possibly “through changing the shape of the rotor blades or using active control devices at the blade edges to disrupt the pattern of turbulence.”

The team is also working on a a computer model to predict the noise output from wind farms so they can measure how effective potential noise-reducing designs will be.