Nature creates the most efficient designs, which is why a whole industry has been spawned around biomimicry, or using nature as a model for innovation. PAX Streamline, a San Rafael, Calif.-based startup funded by Khosla Ventures and spun out of PAX Scientific, has been creating mechanical designs for appliances like pumps, fans and heat exchangers that are based on models including the fluid flow of a whirlpool, or the spiral of a nautilus.
Khosla’s newest member, Ford Tamer, tells us that PAX has been working on “a very cool-looking wind turbine” based on its nature-inspired fluid flow shapes. While Tamer and the company aren’t giving details on the wind turbine just yet, Tamer tells us “it is very different” from the standard, and that “once you see it, you’ll be very surprised.”
For all of the company’s designs, the intellectual property relies both on the shape itself and the design technology to produce the most efficient shape. Tamer explains that the shapes are perfected through algorithms and fluid dynamics programs and can be patented, plus or minus a few percent variation. He says if you change the shape by 2 percent or 3 percent, you can lose that efficiency. We’re looking forward to seeing exactly what nature’s designs can do for the wind turbine efficiency.