"Energy Harvesting Eels"

Experiments are being conducted at Princeton that are examining the feasibility of placing a piezoelectric membrane or "eel" in the wake of a bluff body and using the von Kármán vortex street forming behind the bluff body to induce oscillations in the membrane. The oscillations result in a capacitive buildup in the membrane that provides a voltage source that can be used, for example, to trickle charge a battery in a remote location. The aim of the hydrodynamic testing is to maximize the strain energy and mechanical power by coupling the unsteady flow field with the vibration of the membrane. The requirement of optimal coupling is best defined as a resonance condition where the membrane has negligible damping effect on the original von Kármán vortex street.

Reference:Energy Harvesting Eel,Allen,J.J & Smits,A.J. Journal of Fluids and Structures. (2001) 15 pp 629-640

This work is supported by Ocean Power Technologies Inc, Office of Naval Research and DARPA

Eel in action- flow running left to right.

The following movie of the eel in action appeared on the Canadian Discovery Channel, February 2001. Click here for movie
Full scale tests of 1m long Eels has taken place at Carderock Naval Base. Click for movie Click for movie Click for movie

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