Edinburgh Research Explorer

Investigation of Flapping Wings as a Means of Hydroelectric Power Generation

Project: Funded ProjectResearch

Total award£13,490.00
Funding organisationUK-based charities
Funder project reference73079


Increasing energy demand coupled with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, makes an innovative mix of renewable strategies necessary. Water (in the form of tides, oceanic currents and rivers) has the potential to provide up to three terawatts of power globally, with greater reliability in comparison with wind, and with less negative effects on humans and animals.

In this project, novel tidal energy converters using the motion of flapping wings to drive the generator will be studied. These wings do not rely on smooth attached flow as rotary turbine blades do, but instead mimic the swimming of fishes in nature where high instantaneous forces are achieved by manipulating Leading Edge Vortex (LEV) structures.

The principal investigators propose to study various parameters concerning underwater flapping wing power generation, with a focus on energy solutions for Scotland and the UK which have large coastlines, including around islands. The ideal shape and size of harvesters, their mechanism of operation, the role of wing flexibility, ideal locations for placement, and scalability using arrays and formations will be investigated. The parametric study will be performed with a low-order numerical scheme, and the final designs/solutions will be fine-tuned and validated with experiments.

The project is interdisciplinary in nature and lies at the interface between engineering and biology, including fluid dynamics, structural and functional morphology. The desired aim is to mature the concept to a high level so that future funding to build and test prototypes may be sought from Innovate UK or similar organisations.