Water power 2.0

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new method for generating energy from water flows:

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 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.

More about this VIVACE (Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy) technology can be found here.

[via Jon Taplin’s blog][image from Jon Taplin’s blog]

9 thoughts on “Water power 2.0”

  1. Magnificient all these ideas to wring energy from people’s flatulence or moonbeams and what not …. BUT…. the inquiring mind wants to know how much energy and materials it will cost – to produce these things – how much piss-ass annoying red tape these things generate throughout their functional life – haul them to various rivers – put them in place – maintain and repair them during the functional lifetime – monitor their use in terms of people running around, pressing buttons – remove them once they are irrepairable. If *that* total amount of energy is in the order of 75-150% of what is produced, in the effective lifetime of these things, they are nothing more than an employment generating scheme, a contrived battery, and debatably useful.

    If they produce LESS, all politicians and companies involved should be immediately arrested for fraud and sentenced to a hefty punishment. Fraud is fraud.

    If they however produce at least 2 times the above required energy/resources in their productive lifetime, I recommend installing them EVERYHWERE as soon as possible.

    However when they break, in 10-20-30 years time, our imbecile politicians had better make damn sure we have the resources and energy to implement an equivalent or something better, because if we cannot for lack of resources or energy – I call for an emergency session of parliament RIGHT NOW.


  2. You raise some good points, Dagonweb, but I think you are being a bit harsh. The challenges with systems like these (and there are dozens of related concepts for recovering energy from waves, tides, flowing river water, and more) are the combination of high initial capital cost, high maintenance cost, and always the still-unsolved challenge of efficiently utilizing the power produced (which is typically very unsteady in its output, much like wind turbines). The people who pursue such approaches are generally NOT frauds. They are most often well-meaning and creative engineers with an optimistic outlook, an entrepreneurial bent, and sincerely hopeful that they can make important contributions to solving tough energy problems. We should encourage such innovation, while allowing the marketplace to determine which concepts are worthy of continued investment and which are not. It is true that some early concepts attract way too much hype, and that is unfortunate. But repeated attempts, redesigns, and sometimes even unjustified confidence and perseverance are what ultimately lead to technical progress. For every successful invention, there are many more that fail. As an inventor myself, I can tell you that one has to be willing to risk failing (and experience failure, and then try again) if one is ever to succeed.

  3. Dagonweb, I’m having some trouble figuring out if you are kidding or not, in comment #4. At first, when I saw your comment about urgency, I chuckled, assuming you were (quite cleverly, I might add) mocking those who would charge ahead recklessly to massively fund an unproven technology. But in light of your comments on an earlier thread, it would seem that you just may be serious? Very well then. Like I said before, I am personally involved in an ongoing real-world (no kidding) R&D project in which we are pursuing what we hope will prove to be a breakthrough in harvesting power from ocean waves, based around the technology in US Patent # 7,166,927. We may succeed (and perhaps eventually spawn a multi-billion dollar industry, providing low-cost 100% green power to coastal communities and more) or, of course, we may fail. If you sincerely believe the earht’s situation is so dire that there is no time to lose in pursuing non-carbon based power sources, then I encourage you to invest all you can in our technology! Your investment will help us prove its viability that much sooner, and if it all works out, you’ll even make money too, just as we will. Just let me know and I’ll post the contact information you’ll need. Thanks, and best regards.

  4. Oh absolutely, you will be on my recommendation list for the nobel prize if you spawn success and affordable energy for society.

    BUT I equally recommend legal proceedings against those who push for using food crops for biofuels and the lobbyists that support them.

    On that note, all options are on the table to save humanity. Why – because I feel pretty sure that our current energy consumption patterns will be unable to keep 6.5 (and counting) humans ALIVE in the next few decades. That is a very grave assessment and it merits immediate action – especially action that works and is not a scam. I am convinced we need all hands on deck as soon as possible to make sure tens of millions won’t die from starvation and associated misery before 2025. And I am pretty certain in my convictions in this regard.

  5. Robert, you are far kinder to dagonweb than warranted…

    FWIW, I am interested in seeing these technologies funded, researched and compete in the marketplace. It’s an exciting time to see the development of non-traditional energy sources. But $45 a barrel oil doesn’t help…

    dagonweb, what’s left to say? Your belief system seems to be more in tune with an approach only Torquemada would admire.

    Imprison politicians, staff at companies for what? Innovation? Here’s an idea, if you think our politicians are imbeciles, why don’t you run for office?

    Based on your comments in this thread and in others, I wouldn’t trust you to run a bath…

Comments are closed.