People have been trying to harness wave energy for decades, and of course more traditional – and more destructive – hydroelectric projects like dams provide power to hundreds of millions of people. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan are creating a system for fish-friendly power generation from slow-moving water currents in rivers or oceans – and it’s not that expensive; about a third the cost of cheap solar. Here’s the story:
Slow-moving ocean and river currents could be a new, reliable and affordable alternative energy source. A University of Michigan engineer has made a machine that works like a fish to turn potentially destructive vibrations in fluid flows into clean, renewable power.
The machine is called VIVACE. A paper on it is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.
VIVACE is the first known device that could harness energy from most of the water currents around the globe because it works in flows moving slower than 2 knots (about 2 miles per hour.) Most of the Earth’s currents are slower than 3 knots. Turbines and water mills need an average of 5 or 6 knots to operate efficiently.
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