Sunday, November 30, 2008
Beneath the murky waters of the Detroit River, the future of hydro electric energy generation is taking a giant step into the future. The first experimental tests of a new system called VIVACE (Vortex induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy) are being conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan.
Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the University explained in The UK Telegraph that principle was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.
"This is a totally different method of extracting energy from water flow," said Mr. Bernitsas. "Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them. Their muscle power alone could not propel them at the speed they go, so they ride in each other's wake".
The new device which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.
As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is converted into electrical energy.
Basically, as the device exists now. A field, the hight of a two story house over a 1 km square, could power 100,000 homes. Just a few cyliners stacked in a short ladder, could produce the power for a lighthouse or a freighter.
The device can operate in currents as low as one kilometer/hr, which means that it could be employed in any moving body of water in the world.
This is just one of many new hydro, solar, geo and aeolian energy technologies bursting out of the gates, ready to be put into use. The sad question is, why has it taken so long for this new age to dawn?