Energy from the motion of Seaweed - an investigation of potential
Publish Date: Saturday, 25 December 2021

Charlotte Flaherty & Matthew King


"New sources of sustainable energy are in demand as the impacts of fossil fuel use become apparent. Otago communities risk the loss of their electricity supply as weather events increase in severity and face a further risk from the Alpine Fault which is a well-documented natural hazard. The motion of water provides a reliable and predictable source of energy should the electricity grid suffer a sustained loss. Traditionally, energy extraction from water currents has been achieved through turbines using rotating blades. However, this requires high capital expenditure and, depending on the method of harvest, can have negative impacts on marine ecosystems and the coastal environment. This paper investigates the mechanical properties of seaweed and explores whether seaweed is a suitable medium to be used to collect energy when used as part of a micro energy harvesting device. It has been found that seaweed is a resilient material with properties similar to those of manmade plastics. Seaweed adapts to its local environment and can deal with large hydrodynamic forces; however the stipe of the plant is subject to break if damaged."


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