Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system
Rhett Butler, mongabay.com
November 1, 2006
Tidal energy conversion system produces no pollutant and minimal environmental impact
BioPower Systems Pty Ltd., a renewable energy systems company based in Eveleigh, New South Wales, says that its bioSTREAM technology for converting tidal and marine current energy into electricity is modeled on biological species, such as shark and tuna, that use Thunniform-mode swimming propulsion.
"The motions, mechanisms, and caudal fin hydrofoil shapes of such species have been optimized by natural selection and are known to be up to 90% efficient at converting body energy into propulsive force," said BioPower Systems in a media release. "The bioSTREAM mimics the shape and motion characteristics of these species but is a fixed device in a moving stream... By mimicking these creatures, the bioSTREAM benefits from 3.8 billion years of evolutionary hydrodynamic optimization. The inherited biological traits result in a cost effective and reliable renewable energy system."
BioPower Systems is currently developing 500kW, 1000kW and 2000kW versions of the device.
BioPower Systems is a startup company founded by Dr. Timothy Finnigan, a marine engineer at the University of Sydney. The firm says its technologies are undergoing proof-of-concept R&D, but that full-scale ocean-based prototypes will be tested in 2008 and commercial units are expected to ship by the end of 2009.
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