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Bat Signal for Wind Turbine Blades Triggering Widespread Media Coverage

Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi

Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi

Professor Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is the Principal Investigator for a team of researchers from UMass Amherst and Texas A&M University that is receiving widespread media attention for developing a blade-mounted, ultrasonic whistle for wind turbines that will protect bats by warning them to stay away. The original story was generated by the College of Engineering, adapted as a press release by the UMass News Office, and picked up by the Associated Press. Read media articles: Gazette, WNPR, Boston Herald, Washington Times, San Antonio Express-News, Fox 25, The Day [New London, Conn.], WPRI-TV, Republican, WFCR, Hydrogen Fuel News.

The UMass team will focus on designing and manufacturing a whistle-like device based on a bat larynx, powered by air flowing over the wind turbine blade. Researchers plan to test the whistle design on bats and create a series of devices that can effectively induce a flight avoidance response for at-risk bat species. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a reliable, cost-effective means of alerting bats to the presence of moving turbine blades as a way to lower bat mortality at wind facilities and reduce regulatory uncertainty for wind facility developers.

The team recently received a $250,000 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant, augmented by $62,500 from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to develop the device on wind turbines to deter and protect bat species. The project will address the challenge of deterring bats across the entire wind-turbine rotor and test whether a pulsed noise, similar to a bat call, can act as an effective warning. The project, entitled “A Biomimetic Ultrasonic Whistle for Use as a Bat Deterrent on Wind Turbines,” was funded by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

MIE Professor Matthew Lackner is also on the team, which includes: Dr. Paul Sievert of the Department of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst, who will direct the project; Dr. Michael Smotherman of the Biology Department at Texas A & M University; UMass Biology Professor Elizabeth Dumont; and UMass IGERT Student Fellows Zara Dowling and Daniel Carlson.

Read UMass News Office Press Release »