New propeller design to reduce noise pollution

Boats and aircraft still use propeller designs that are hundreds or even thousands of years old.

However, that could be set to change thanks to a new design being implemented by the aviation and marine sectors.

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US that has been working on a new drone has found that adapting the traditional shape of the propellers into a twisted ring, or twisted-toroid, drastically reduces the noise from the drone blades.

The sound created is more like a rushing breeze than a propeller, making it far less intrusive. What’s more, the new design also produces more thrust.

These benefits are equally apparent in marine applications too. Some boat propeller manufacturers are already using the toroidal loops instead of standard propeller blades. When used on outboard motors, these provide a much smoother, quieter and far more fuel efficient ride.

In marine applications the new-look propellers are currently around ten times the price of a traditional propeller. The complex shapes may, initially at least, be harder to manufacture, but it looks as though costs will reduce in time. And the fuel saving alone may make the investment worthwhile.

Let’s hope that the clever change in propeller shape will soon mean a quieter world above the clouds and on, and beneath, the waves.

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