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24 Nov 2008 05:11:24

Fish-based marine power harnesses slow moving water

Fish-based marine power harnesses slow moving water
A renewable energy technology developed by a scientist who worked on keeping offshore oil rigs upright can generate electricity even from slow moving water.

The new system, which makes the most of vortexes created when water rushes past cylinders, could open up new areas of ocean and river floors to renewable energy creation.

University of Michigan professor Michael Bernitsas, who developed an expertise in the vortexes carrying out research on how to minimise their impact on oil rigs and bridges, has developed "a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow".

Water rushing past cylinders causes them to vibrate with devastating consequence for the structures they support, but prof Bernitsas' device instead harnesses the vibrations to create energy.

According to the developers, the device works in water moving at two knots, compared to the five to seven knots turbines and water mills need to be financially viable.

The Vortex Induced Vibration for Aquatic Clean Energy device, soon to be tested in the Delaware River, has used lessons learned from observing fish, which supporters claim will benefit from the technology.

Instead of spinning blades which could harm fish populations, the new system will at worst disorient the marine creatures, say backers.

The UK has half of the EU's wave energy potential, according to Frost & Sullivan, though this applies to traditional measures and the new technology could see areas previously not considered marine power assets used for generation.



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