Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sustainable turbulence

Fish gather together in shoals for more than safety in numbers: their bodies are able to extract kinetic energy from vortices and eddies created by objects in water or other fish.

This has led some researchers to investigate how these same processes could be reproduced in devices capable of generating electricity from turbulence in liquid flows (unlike in conventional turbines, for which turbulence is a hindrance), as described in this article.

An example: this project from Princeton.

This is interesting, beyond the issues of efficiency and renewable energy production – architectural skins could be reworked so as to use wind forces productively, instead of merely resisting them.