biomimicry

A tidal turbine inspired by the swimming of fishes

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Research inspired by 3.8 billion years of living R&D

Biomimicry is a fast-growing approach, at the heart of the breakthrough innovation strategies of research centres, large companies and start-ups, on many subjects, including energy transition. In particular, the approach allows us to break out of the silos and innovate through decompartmentalized approaches inspired by 3.8 billion years of R&D in the field of life sciences. EEL ENERGY is developing a new type of tidal turbine without a propeller: thanks to an undulating membrane, it can produce electricity from marine or river currents. Demonstration.
Ct looks like a large fin that mimics the ripples of fish such as eels or rays. This prototype tidal turbine is made of fiberglass, reinforced by epoxy carbon fibers covered with a rubber that resists tears and abrasions and to which marine organisms do not attach (manufactured by Hutchinson- Total Group). Under the effect of current, the membrane's corrugation is converted directly into electricity by linear electromagnetic converters.
The tidal turbine thus automatically orientates itself according to the flow and starts at low fluid speed (0.5 m/s). According to its designers, it can be installed at shallow depths, near coasts, but also in rivers. Interested? They seem numerous: the potential sites for installation could be a thousand times more numerous than those suitable for propeller tidal turbines, not to mention the avoidance of visual pollution. Nor does it disturb marine fauna.
In the presence of several representatives of the City of Boulogne where the project has been developed for five years and the Hauts de France Region, EEL ENERGY presented last week in Boulogne sur Mer, alongside its partners Ifremer, Dassault Systemes, Hutchinson and Frisquet, the river version of this prototype tidal turbine inspired by the swimming of fish.
The EEL Energy tidal turbine is the result of a meeting between a researcher, Jean-Baptiste Drevet, a specialist in coupling between fluids and undulating membranes for 20 years, current president of EEL Energy, and a financial specialist, Franck Sylvain, an investor in environmental solutions and the company's managing director.
This solution, requested by some market players, could complement the marine tidal turbine solution, also under development. It will provide access to clean, renewable and predictable electrical energy from river currents, without the need for major investment and with a limited environmental impact.
This prototype in river version, patented this month, has incorporated the many lessons learned from the tests carried out in recent months in the laboratory and at sea. These tests have enabled EEL ENERGY to obtain the first and only certification in the world, by BUREAU VERITAS, of a tidal turbine power curve according to European standards.
First tests in the Brest Rade in 2017 for EEL Energy

Industrialization should begin in Boulogne in 2019. The aim is to produce 30 and 100 kW machines, primarily for river applications, especially for isolated or poorly connected sites. The Managing Director of EEL Energy, Franck Sylvain, told revolution.energetics.com magazine last June, that rivers such as the Congo in Africa or the Amazon in Brazil could set up undulating tidal turbine farms near villages, thus avoiding the costs of an expensive transmission and distribution network and avoiding the construction of large dams that disturb the environment and aquatic fauna. Producing electricity 24 hours a day, these tidal turbines would not require any storage system, unlike wind or solar installations. The intention is to market them in spare parts, easy to transport and quickly assembled.

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