Saturday Morning Physics
Enhancing Flow Instabilities to Harness Hydrokinetic Energy
Marine hydrokinetic energy is abundant, clean, renewable, and worldwide available. Can we harness such a treasure and convert it to affordable electricity in a simple yet environmentally compatible way, i.e. without using dams/turbines? We will learn about the research and development of the VIVACE Converter, from concept to prototype testing in the St. Clair River. Professor Bernitsas will show how fundamental developments in cylinder-hydrodynamics discovered in the Marine Renewable Energy Laboratory were implemented in design to achieve power density about 15,000 times that of wind farms. The underlying concept is to enhance natural flow instabilities (VIV, galloping, buffeting) by mimicking kinematics of fish-schools in a simple yet effective way. VIVACE is highly scalable with applications from 1Watt to 100’s of MWatts.