A better water wing to harvest tidal energy

How tidal energy could take flight

Mounted on the sea floor, the device’s wings move up and down the stationary pole, generating power. More wings can be added, and the device can fold flat to allow large ships or loaded barges to pass safely. Credit: Mandre lab/Brown University

When it comes to raw power and absolute reliability, it doesn’t get much better than the tides. That’s why tidal power is such an attractive option as a renewable form of energy. But designing a device to gather tidal energy in shallow water, where the ebb and flow move fastest and the energy potential is highest, has proven problematic. A research group at Brown is working on a solution. Led by Shreyas Mandre, assistant professor of engineering, the group is developing a hydrofoil — a water wing — as a means to harvest tidal energy. And unlike other tidal energy technologies, the wing is a shallow water specialist.