Palm-tree inspired blades for wind turbines earned Eric Loth (PhD Aero ’88) a spot on Popular Science’s list of 12 “brilliant minds behind the new energy revolution.”
The blades would be placed on the downwind side of a wind turbine. A hinge near the rotor allows the blades to fold back, as if bowed by the wind. This enables extremely long blades that capture low-speed wind energy very efficiently without spinning the rotor at damaging speeds during high winds.
Loth says that the idea began with his research at U-M.