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Page added on October 29, 2008

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Tapping the Vortex for Green Energy

A bane of Big Oil’s offshore rigs could become a boon for renewable energy.

By tapping the natural motion of slow-moving water, a new hydrokinetic generator could open vast new swaths of the ocean for energy production.

When ocean currents flow over any kind of cylinder, like the long cables that hold drilling platforms in place, small vortices are created. They eventually spin away, or shed, causing vibrations that over time can destroy an oil rig’s moorings.

Now, a University of Michigan engineer who long worked on suppressing this phenomenon, has developed a prototype energy-harvester that can capture the mechanical energy it creates.


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