Skip to main content

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Researcher Working To Make Smarter Wind Turbine Blades

January 28, 2011

Rensselaer Researcher Working To Make Smarter Wind Turbine Blades

Professor Miki Amitay Wins New York State Grant To Continue Development of Synthetic Jets for Wind Turbines

Aerospace engineering expert Michael “Miki” Amitay, associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, this week received a $250,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to continue his work on smarter blades for wind turbines.

For the past three years, Amitay has led several studies into new technologies that could optimize wind turbines for Upstate New York’s gusty, turbulent winds. In this region, the wind is inconsistent and wind shear values can be rather high. This leads to wind turbines operating inefficiently, and also increases the risk for structural damage to the turbine blades.

Amitay has developed a new technology to help dramatically lessen the impact of low and gusty winds on wind turbines. His solution involves incorporating small synthetic jet actuators into wind turbine blades. These actuators can produce puffs of air that alter the flow of air around the blade. Sensors built into the blade can sense how the air is flowing around the blade, and how much vibration-induced strain the blade is experiencing. These sensors automatically activate the actuators, in real time.

These actuators make wind turbine blades more aerodynamic and less prone to damage by reducing the stress on wind turbine blades caused by strong gusts of wind and turbulence. The actuators make wind turbine blades more aerodynamic and longer-lived by significantly reducing how much the blades vibrate.

Amitay, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer, is a member of the Rensselaer Center for Future Energy Systems and the Rensselaer Center for Automation Technologies and Systems. Amitay’s wind turbine research is supported with funding from NYSERDA, National Science Foundation (NSF), New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), and other organizations.

For more information on Amitay’s research at Rensselaer, visit:

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161