Inspired By Sea Life: Biomimicry Produces Power From The Ocean
BioPower Systems is an Australian company that creates technologies to convert ocean power into a renewable source of energy for other applications. Its assumption is that oceans must have the best possible technology within them for marine life to have evolved in them for 3.8 billion years.
BioPower has two technologies to produce renewable energy from the sea: bioWave™ from the ocean, and bioStream™ from tidal currents in streams. The systems lie under water, but are designed not to disturb marine life. Both systems hook up to utility-scale grids to generate renewable energy using efficient modular systems.
bioBase™, a third technology, is a mooring system that serves as the foundation for bioWave and bioStream.
bioWAVE Ocean Wave Power System
The bioWave power blades mimic the swaying motion of sea plants in the ocean (the ones that "go with the flow.") The waves create a hydrodynamic interaction with the buoyant bioWave blades that allows for maximum energy absorption. In extreme wave conditions, the bioWave blades lie flat on the ocean floor, which allows for lighter systems to be installed at a great cost savings. The capacities of each system are commensurate with the conditions where the bioWaves are installed.
Below are close-up photos of the bioWave system.
bioSTREAM Tidal Power System
The bioStream is patterned after thunniform-swimming fish, such as shark, tun, and mackerel. Each member of the system has a rotating arm and flexible "fin" that swim from a fixed pole. In this system, the passing flow is used to drive the arm and fin against the resisting torque of an electrical generator. "Each device can align with the flow in any direction and can assume a streamlines configuration to avoid excess loading in extreme situations."
bioBASE Seabed Mooring System
The bioWave and bioStream both need ways to be anchored to the ocean floor. bioBase, mimicking the hold-fast systems of large sea plants like giant kelp, moors into the ground by sending its vertical and lateral weight loads into many smaller elements that connect to the sea floors at the bottom strata. Thus, bioBase, as the foundation to the bioWave and bioStream, averts the need for more expensive drill rigs or other large specialized equipment.
The bioBase is also used in land applications, such as offshore wind turbines.
To really appreciate how bioWave and bioStream operate, you should see the short animations provided by BioPower Systems. There is also a good short video produced by National Geographic about these "Undersea Wind Farms."