Experimental investigation of aerodynamic characteristics of bat carcasses after collision with a wind turbine

Prakash, Shivendra; Markfort, Corey D.

A large number of bat fatalities have been reported in wind energy facilities in different regions globally. Wind farm operators are required to monitor bat fatalities by conducting carcass surveys at wind farms. A previous study implemented the ballistics model to characterize the carcass fall zone distributions after a bat is struck by turbine blades. The ballistics model considers the aerodynamic drag force term, which is dependent upon the carcass drag coefficient. The bat carcass drag coefficient is highly uncertain; no measurement of it is available. This paper introduces a methodology for bat carcass drag coefficient estimation. Field investigation at Macksburg wind farm resulted in the discovery of three bat species: the hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), eastern red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis). Carcass drop experiments were performed from a dropping platform at finite height, and carcass position time series data were recorded using a high-speed camera. Falling carcasses were subjected to aerodynamic drag and gravitational forces. Carcasses were observed to undergo rotation, often rotating around multiple axes simultaneously, as well as lateral translation. The complex fall dynamics, along with drop from a limited height, prohibit the carcasses from attaining terminal velocity. Under this limitation, the drag coefficient is estimated by fitting a ballistics model to the measured velocity. Multivariable optimization was performed to fit the ballistics model to the measured velocity resulting, in an optimized estimate of the drag coefficient. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated significant variation in the drag coefficient with a small change in initial position, highlighting the chaotic nature of carcass fall dynamics. Based on the limited sample, the bat carcass drag coefficient and terminal velocity were found to be between 0.70–1.23 and 6.63–17.57 m sinline-formula−1, respectively. The maximum distance carcasses are predicted to fall after impact with a typical utility-scale onshore wind turbine was computed using a 2-D ballistics model. Based on the range of drag coefficients found in this study, hoary and evening bats are estimated to fall within the rotor plane up to a maximum distance of 92 and 62 m, respectively, from the wind turbine tower. The ballistics model of carcasses after being struck by wind turbine blades can be used to obtain fall distributions for bats, guide carcass survey efforts, and correct survey data for limited or unsearched areas.

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Prakash, Shivendra / Markfort, Corey D.: Experimental investigation of aerodynamic characteristics of bat carcasses after collision with a wind turbine. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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