Biomimicry – or designs based on natural systems – is one of the most intriguing methods for designers and engineers to create innovative and efficient solutions to problems. Inspired by forms and functions found in nature, this approach to sustainable design allows for environmentally friendly solutions for energy, waste reduction and a bevy of other design challenges. Using biomimicry as the guiding design principle, the Australian firm BioPower Systems has developed Biowave: an ocean power system that harnesses energy by mimicking the motion of underwater plants in the ocean currents to generate electricity.
Biowave mimics the swaying motion of the sea plants found in the ocean bed. The system looks like three buoyant blades which are constantly oscillating to the motion of the sea. As they sway in the tide, electricity is generated. If at any point the system is in danger because of the strong currents, it simply lies in flat until the ocean calms down.
BioPower Systems is currently testing a prototype off the coast of Tasmania. A prototype unit of 250kw will inform the company on how to best deploy a larger scale system which in turn is expected to provide power to Flinders and King islands, and in the future, if successful, the entire state of Victoria, home of the city of Melbourne.