Energy harvesting

Energy harvesting from small-scale fluid structures

Recent advances in lightweight smart materials have opened the door to scientific and technological advancement in the area of energy harvesting for limited power consumption devices. This research program addresses the grand challenge of extracting usable energy from small-scale aquatic environments.

More specifically, this program seeks to exploit coherent fluid flow structures for energy harvesting. Coherent fluid structures, such as Karman vortex streets and turbulent eddies, are generally present in aquatic environments and are due to a variety of mechanisms, including flow separation from fixed immersed bodies, thermal and pressure gradients, and momentum transfer from swimming animals.

Practicality dictates that harvesting devices for underwater applications be lightweight, require small forces and low frequencies to elicit motion and thus energy harvesting, produce sufficient electrical power to run a set of microdevices, and operate in wet conditions.

Ionic Polymer Metal Composites (IPMCs) meet all of these requirements and are thus the primary focus of this program.

This project is in collaboration with Dr. Maurizio Porfiri at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.