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The wave of the future?
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, November 30, 2008

No pun intended.

A few weeks ago I mentioned energy generated by tidal action as a possible solution to many of our future energy requirements. Clean and reliable, the only drawback seemed to be that the existing technology required a fairly active tidal process (moving at 5 to 6 knots) to turn the generators on the sea floor. In fact, it limited us to about 12 sites around the US.

However, a "revolutionary" new device shows much more promise than those:
The 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.
Anywhere there's flowing water. Now that sounds interesting.
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.
Increasing the size of the field you get:
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.
That shows a lot of potential. And there seems to be no down-side here:
Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.
First test site? Detroit River, where the flow is less than 2 knots.

Fingers crossed.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

This is a non-starter.

It damages [insert obscure environmental excuse to litigate this to oblivion here]
Written By: shark
URL: http://
note: Tidal energy comes ultimately from the Moon’s orbit (mostly).

I can see it now: Tidal power is slowly dragging the Moon from it’s orbit in to the Earth, while slowing the Earth’s rotation to a period that will decimate the environment that has evolved for a 24 hour day. The result will be a cataclysm of unimaginable proportions. I blame Bush!

Written By: Jonathan K Armstrong
URL: http://
The Detroit River?
Won’t the bodies get tangled in the works?

Written By: Bithead
There’s no such thing as free energy. What will be the impact of taking energy from the tides? What ecosystems will we disrupt? What natural erosion will we impact?
Written By: anonymous
URL: http://
You’re right anonymous. We all ought to just commit suicide right now to stop disrupting ecosystems.
Written By: Billy Hollis
That’s the beauty of nuclear power. You not only don’t damage so many ecosystems, you actually CREATE biodiversity through the production of mutant 3-eyed fish, superhumans bitten by radioactive spiders, etc.
Written By: harun
URL: http://
Isn’t that how we get liberals, harun?

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