Estimating the Likelihood of Bat Barotrauma using Computational Simulations and Analytical Calculations

Research output: NRELPoster


Barotrauma from rapid pressure fluctuations can rupture internal structures in the body, causing internal bleeding and, potentially, death. Several recent studies provide evidence that suggests barotrauma may be a significant cause of wind-turbine-related bat deaths. To date, no studies have systematically characterized the pressure fields that are generated by operating utility-scale wind turbines and compared these conditions to those that could potentially be harmful to bats. In this work, we use computational fluid dynamics simulations and analytical calculations to estimate the pressure fields over the blades and in the blade tip vortices for this purpose. Our results show that while there is a very small region where the pressure over the suction surface of the blade could cause barotrauma, the region is so close to the blade surface that a bat would almost certainly have to collide with the blade to be exposed to the harmful pressure, and thus barotrauma appears unlikely.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NamePresented at the AWEA Wind Project Siting & Environmental Compliance Conference 2018, 20-21 March 2018, Memphis, Tennessee

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5000-71085


  • barotrauma
  • bat
  • CFD
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • tip vortex
  • wind energy


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