One of the mysteries of our existence in the words of one of the cli-fi novel WARMING!’s characters is, “How can you have an energy crisis in a universe that doesn’t have anything in it except energy?”
Most life forms have evolved mechanisms to process productively the energy necessary for their basic existence. It’s been suggested that humans could learn much from our fellow inhabitants through the principles of biomimicry. (There’s an excellent book of the same title by Janine Beylus. Her institute is at http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org/.)
Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with an ingenious device, generating electric power from slow water currents by mimicking the movement of fish which draw power from vortex induced vibrations.
Vortex induced vibrations are undulations that a rounded or cylinder-shaped object makes in a flow of water. The presence of the object puts kinks in the current’s speed as it skims by. This causes eddies, or vortices, to form in a pattern on the back side of the object. The vortices push and pull the object up and down or left and right, perpendicular to the current. In the invention, moving objects are attached to a device that converts their kinetic energy to electricity.
The drawing above is courtesy of the company that is commercializing the technology, Vortex Hydro Energy, http://www.vortexhydroenergy.com/.