Innovative Water Turbine Inspired by Sharks
Anthony Reale, a Michigan product-design grad, doesn't just swim with sharks - he's inspired by them to create better ways of harnessing sustainable energy. His latest innovation is "Strait Power," an innovative take on the water turbine modeled after the basking shark. The basking shark is so aptly named because it swims with its mouth agape as it filters water through its gills to catch bits of food in the sea, a process that creates a slipstream making it more effortless for the shark to glide through the water.
What does this mean as far as sustainable energy is concerned? Reale decided that he could mimic the shark's method of compressing and accelerating water flow out of its gills to produce a more efficient hydrokinetic generator that extracts more energy from flowing water. After a mere 711 hours of work, much of which he spent sketching the muscles of the shark’s mouth to study its shape, Reale built a twin-blade turbine for his senior product-design project at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. The project was first tested at University of Michigan’s Hydrolab which houses a 100 yard-long, 22 foot-wide, 10 foot-deep tow tank.
Excitingly, the twin-blade design was a success - 40% more efficient than the former single blade turbine. Strait Power is expected to be sent to research camps in Alaska and further examined by University of Michigan researchers. The researchers hope to use the innovative design in the rapidly flowing rivers of Alaska in place of gasoline or propane generators. Hydropower would be safer and better for the environment according to Guy Meadows, professor in the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.
Check out Anthony Reale’s blog at www.straitpower.blogspot.com, and watch as he intends to move forward with plans for patents and further development. Reale has high hopes for the turbine – perhaps powering the Motor City itself via the Detroit River.
"This,” Reale says, “is my art.”