Revolutionary device would enable ocean currents to power the world

December 1st, 2008 - 12:33 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 1 (ANI): Scientists have developed a new revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents, and might be able to provide enough power for the entire world.

Existing technologies require an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earths currents are slower than three knots.

Current technologies, which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea.

Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earths currents are slower than three knots.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the new technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot, about one mile an hour, meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.

The technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.

The new device, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.

The system is called Vivace, or vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.

Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts.

This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.

A field of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes.

Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.

According to Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the University of Michigan, If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people, he said. (ANI)

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