Whales are large, unwieldy creatures, but they manage to move around in water with surprising agility despite their size. A company called Whale Power discovered this was due to their flippers, which are studded with bumps called “tubercules” along their leading edge.
Scientists at the companies were inspired to put bumps or tubercules on their own products, including fan blades, wind turbines and irrigation pumps. These bumps make the applications more efficient just like the whale’s flippers, in fact wind turbines with this tubercules are up to 20% more efficient. Another test a wind tunnel shows flippers with bumps experienced more than 30% less drag. Researchers are even considering adding the bumps to airplane wings to increase lift and reduce drag.