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Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system

Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system

Shark biomimicry produces renewable energy system
Rhett Butler,
November 1, 2006

Tidal energy conversion system produces no pollutant and minimal environmental impact

An Australian firm has developed a renewable tidal energy conversion system based on the highly efficient fin structure of shark, tuna, and mackerel.

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.”


The firm said that with few moving parts, the technology is cost effective and requires low maintenance, while it is “environmentally benign” with a small footprint and minimal seabed disturbance. BioSTREAM is also robust, designed to withstand hurricanes and strong ocean currents.

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.