A senior high-school student in Keelung has developed a way to harness the energy produced by fish as they swim.
Chen Huai-pu (陳懷璞), who has grown up spending lots of time around the ocean, said the idea came to him as he was snorkeling one day.
Noticing how quickly fish move, he wondered if the energy their movements produced could be captured and stored, he said.
Photo courtesy of Anle Senior High School
Under the guidance of one of his teachers at Anle Senior High School, Chen developed a small device that can be attached to a fish’s body to generate electricity.
Chen said that he used a 3D printer to produce a Venturi tube — a tube with a constricted section that decreases the pressure of fluids flowing through it at the same time the velocity of the fluid is increased — which allowed him to measure the speed of water flow, and thus determine the amount of potential energy that would be produced by the flow.
A series of experiments confirmed his hypothesis that electricity could be produced by the movement of fish, he said.
The potential 20-year lifespan of his device would be far better than the average lifespan of conventional batteries, he said.
His invention won first place at a recent science and engineering competition in Taiwan, and in May, he is scheduled present it at a technology symposium in the US.
Chen, who has been working with his teachers to improve his English ahead of his trip to the US, said he is very interested in interdisciplinary studies and combining ideas from different fields.
Marine scientist Chiang Wei-chuan (江偉全) said Chen’s device could potentially slash the cost of seafloor research surveys.
At present, conducting such surveys has to be done by ship-based researchers, and the costs of such projects can easily top NT$10 million (US$324,359), he said.
However, Chen’s fish-mounted micro generators could be used in an application that would allow a survey of the seafloor through the movement of fish, which would drastically reduce such costs, the scientst said.
Once mass-produced, the per unit cost of Chen’s device could be as little as NT$5,000, Chiang said.
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