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Ziehl-Abegg develops fans for central AHUs applying bionics

Design inspired by humpback whales allows reduced energy consumption and quieter running, manufacturer claims

| | Mar 16, 2016 | 12:50 pm
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Künzelsau, Germany: Saying that it has applied knowledge gained from nature and bionic profiling to product development, fan manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg has announced introducing ZAbluefin, a new generation of radial fans, taking inspiration from the humpback whale, thus allowing for energy savings of up to 10%.

The experts at Ziehl-Abegg, the announcement revealed, spent about two years on the new centrifugal impeller for air-handling units and industrial ventilation, resulting in creation of bionic profile blades, with no gaps into which dirt or condensation can penetrate, unlike currently commercially available hollow-profiled blades, which lead not only to corrosion but also create an imbalance. This, the manufacturer claimed, makes the new fans effective in terms of efficiency and low-noise.

“Our engineers have, therefore, clearly underlined their role in the forefront of bionics and as a leader in fan technology,” said Peter Fenkl, Chairman of the Board at Ziehl-Abegg.

Explaining the finer points, Dr Walter Angelis, Technical Manager for Ventilation Systems at Ziehl-Abegg, added: “The angle at which the airflow meets the fan blade depends on the flow volume. The whale has to overcome similar challenges when swimming in the sea: The movement of the fins causes the angle to constantly change. If its pectoral fins were to be at too steep an angle to the counter-flow, this would produce a lot of turbulence as the water passes over them. The characteristic features of excessive turbulence are high-flow losses and noise.”

Pointing out that over millennia the humpback whale has optimised the design of its fins, for example, the leading edge of the whale’s fins contains golf ball-sized bumps (tubercles), thus, with its long pectoral fins, a whale weighing 25 to 30 tonnes can swim very quickly and with great agility, Dr Angelis said, “We have recreated this on the leading edge of the fan blade and implemented it as an undulating profile.”

The flow engineers, he informed, have also taken a close look at the whale’s rear fin, the “fluke”, and reflecting this, the V-shaped contour of the rear section of the wing delays potential flow breaks, thus enabling the fan to be used for numerous different pressure ranges.

With tools developed in conjunction with external experts, the company informed that the new impellers will be manufactured entirely at Ziehl-Abegg from autumn 2016.

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