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.
The Basking Shark Inspired Anthony Reale's "Strait Power" Water Turbine: Image via: oursurprisingworld.com
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
Anthony Reale in the University of Michigan's Hyrdolab 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.
Anthony Reale's "Strait Power" Prototype: Inspired by the Basking Shark
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.”
Sources: EarthTechling and Michigan Engineering LabLog and Engadget