Ultrasonic Bat Deterrent Technology


Title: Ultrasonic Bat Deterrent Technology
Authors: Kinzie, K.
Publication Date:
June 27, 2018
Document Number: DOE-GE-07035
Pages: 161
Sponsoring Organization:

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Kinzie, K. (2017). Ultrasonic Bat Deterrent Technology. Report by General Electric Company. pp 161.

The project objective was to advance the development and testing of an Near commercial bat-deterrent system with a goal to increase the current GE deterrent system effectiveness to over 50% with broad species applicability. Additionally, the research supported by this program has provided insights into bat behavior and ultrasonic deterrent design that had not previously been explored. Prior research and development had demonstrated the effectiveness of a commercial-grade, air-powered, ultrasonic bat deterrent to be between 30-50% depending upon the species of bat. However, the previous research provided limited insight into the behavioral responses of bats in the presence of ultrasonic deterrent sound fields that could be utilized to improve effectiveness. A unique bat flight room was utilized to observe the behavioral characteristics of bats in the presence of ultrasonic sound fields. Behavioral testing in the bat flight facility demonstrated that ultrasonic sounds similar to those produced by the GE deterrent influenced the activities and behaviors, primarily those associated with foraging, of the species exposed. The study also indicated that continuous and pulsing ultrasonic signals had a similar effect on the bats, and confirmed that as ultrasonic sounds attenuate, their influence on the bats’ activities and behavior decreases. Ground testing at Wolf Ridge Wind, LLC and Shawnee National Forest assessed both continuous and pulsing deterrent signals emitted from the GE deterrent system and further enhanced the behavioral understanding of bats in the presence of the deterrent. With these data and observations, the existing 4-nozzle continuous, or steady, emission ultrasonic system was redesigned to a 6-nozzle system that could emit a pulsing signal covering a larger air space around a turbine. Twelve GE 1.6-100 turbines were outfitted with the deterrent system and a formal three-month field study was performed using daily carcass searches beneath the 12 turbines. Additionally, a unique 3D bat flight path visualization system was utilized to monitor for and identify any changes in bat activity caused by the operation of the deterrent system. Both the carcass search and flight path visualization data indicated that the pulsed deterrent system was effective, but not more effective, than the steady system tested in prior years. The pulsed deterrent system was effective at reducing bat fatalities by 38% for all species and 54% effective at reducing fatalities if Eastern Red bats were excluded from the data. However, an unanticipated byproduct of the pulsing system was the emission of intermittent water vapor from the deterrent devices due to the air compression process that powered the devices. This water vapor may have altered the ultrasonic signal and obscured the results in an unknown way. While a qualitative analysis of the effect of the water vapor on the deterrent signal had indicated there was not dramatic change in the expected ultrasonic signal, it was not possible to conclusively determine if the pulse signal would have been more effective in the absence of the water vapor.

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