According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, if you utilized just 1/1000th of the energy potential available in the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, you could supply Florida with 35% of its electricity. Extrapolate that out across all the major currents globally and there’s plenty of potential to supply the entire world with electricity. Florida-based Crowd Energy was started by two brothers and marine experts, Todd and Phillip Janca, who want to harness that energy. They have been working for eight years on a sub-sea water turbine that will safely and efficiently generate energy from marine currents.
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The Ocean Energy Turbine is a three-bladed vertical axis turbine with large paddles featuring integrated, movable blades. As the current begins to push on a paddle the blades flip shut, offering more surface area for the current to push against. As the paddle spins around, the blades open back up to offer less resistance. The turbine has been designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the marine environment while minimizing impact on aquatic life. The high-torque, low-speed turbine operates at speeds similar to swimming fish and should not present any physical risk to life, and it also makes minimal noise so as to not disturb marine life acoustically.
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Currently, Crowd Energy is running a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for the company to progress their design past their first prototype into a second prototype for laminar flow tank tests. Afterwards they will begin open water testing and verification with the help of the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University. The team hopes to prove their technology, improve upon the design and then begin work on production scale turbines that can generate real electricity in the ocean. Ultimately, Crowd Energy foresees placing turbines with 30 meter diameters in staggered arrays deep underwater to generate energy on a utility scale. “We want to put large turbines below the storm surge so they can remain a reliable source of energy for decades at a time,” Todd Janca explained to Inhabitat. “Long-term reliability and survivability are key for Ocean Energy to be taken seriously.”
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