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From paperclip to patent | Eize Stamhuis

23 April 2019

How is it possible that an albatross doesn’t crash and die when it lands? And how come its large wings don’t break due to air resistance? That is what you would expect, according to the laws of aerodynamics. However, Professor Eize Stamhuis has discovered that albatrosses land safely by making wiggly wing movements. What is more, he sees a possible application of this oscillation technique to make the blades of wind turbines more efficient. To protect his intellectual property (IP), he has applied for a patent. He has also attracted interest from industries working on aerodynamics. So, how does he work?

Text: Gert Gritter, Communication UG; photos Jeroen van Kooten

His office in the ultramodern Linnaeusborg building looks like a cabinet of curiosities. On his table, for instance, are various 3D prints of a globe-shaped trunkfish. On the wall hangs a plaster cast of an ichthyosaur, a prehistoric fish-like animal. There are models of penguins. The gills of a paddlefish (from the former Emmen Zoo) float in a pot of formalin. But Stamhuis is not really a collector. He uses these models to develop, apply and market his innovations. They all serve a scientific purpose, inspired by what nature thought up. The wiggly movements that albatrosses, petrels and other large sea birds make with the ends of their wings are a good example. The wiggles enable the birds to generate more lift at low speed, especially before landing. For smaller birds, such as crows, it is enough to simply flap their entire wings. Stamhuis: ‘In my research group, we immediately had a gut feeling that this was worth looking into. It was exciting!’ > Read full news article: News University of Groningen.

Eize Stamhuis
Eize Stamhuis
Last modified:23 April 2019 2.47 p.m.
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