Turbine Design and Reliability

Biology Inspired Energy Harvesting

Led by Oscar Curet, Ph.D.
Affiliated Home Campus: Boca Raton
Affiliated Department: Ocean and Mechanical Engineering


Mangrove trees grow on coastal tidal areas of tropical and subtropical zones. They serve as an ecosystem for diverse species and as a protection against coastal erosion and storms due to robust networks of roots. Inspired by the oscillating roots, a simplified design of an energy harvesting system comprised of coil and magnets attached to vertical oscillating cylinders was designed. Two root’s configuration models were tested: (1) single cylinder, and (2) three circular arrays with the same cylinders, but with different porosity. The models were hinged with an elastic steel plate (SP), allowing transverse motion, and perpendicular to the flow. Three SP with different thickness were used. A coil with a set of magnets was placed in the upper part of the device to measure electrical energy converted from kinetic energy of the oscillations. Both models were tested on a water tunnel with flow velocities from 2 cm/s to 15 cm/s. The interaction of flexible roots in the flow under tidal current conditions was explored. It was found that for the single cylinder model the amplitude of the oscillation and the open circuit voltage increase with the SP thickness. The system can be optimized by tuning the SP thickness and changing the porosity of the arrays to maximize energy harvested.

Click here to watch the student presentation.

HBOI ocean fish