Stephen Dewar

U of S alumnus named European Inventor Awards finalist

When you take the time to look at the world a little differently, you may discover the next big thing.

By Leslie-Ann Schlosser

That’s the case for U of S alumnus, entrepreneur and filmmaker Stephen W. Dewar (BA’64) who was recently nominated for the European Patent Office (EPO) prize.  

Inspired by the ridges on humpback whale flippers, Dewar is challenging the assumption that wind turbines have to be smooth and straight. Along with his colleagues, U.S./Canadian aeronautical engineer Philip Watts, and U.S. biologist Frank Fish, Dewar developed turbine blades with three-dimensional bumps on the edges, similar to the flippers on humpback whales.

After much research, the trio discovered this saw-like alteration can change the flow of air for improved aerodynamics and quieter operation. These bumps, referred to as tubercles, can increase speed for windmills, turbines, fans and even surfboards.

Dewar, Watts and Fish created their company, WhalePower, in 2005 to patent their idea and have since gone on to develop designs and prototypes for industries around the world.

"Dewar, Watts and Fish's invention has the potential to make an impact on worldwide energy consumption, particularly as we increasingly rely on green technology," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli announcing the European Inventor Award 2018 finalists.

The winners of this year's edition of the EPO's annual innovation prize will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on June 7.

Did you know...

A turbine designed based on a humpback whale flipper can help wind farms produce 20 per cent more power with less wind.

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