Autonomously deployed energy harvesting system in coastal and riverine environment
The capabilities and mission profile of underwater sensors and autonomous systems are often significantly limited by the availability of onboard energy. The issue of energy limitation becomes more severe for autonomous systems deployed in the littorals, in surf zones, and in rivers due to the difficulties of deploying and retrieving these systems to replace batteries. Environmental energy harvesting systems based on solar or wind may be impractical due to high visibility and unreliability of the energy source. However, there exists the potential to extract the abundant hydrodynamic energy in these environments and use it to recharge the batteries onboard deployed systems. Infoscitex Corporation (IST) and SRI International (SRI) will address this opportunity by developing a modular hydrokinetic energy harvesting solution that is easy to transport and handle, adaptable, durable, and self deploying. This solution will be accomplished by utilizing a relatively new energy generation technology based on electroactive polymers (EAP). EAPs are elastomeric materials that are able to efficiently convert mechanical strains into electrical currents. IST and its collaborators at SRI have already successfully developed and evaluated a number of energy harvesting systems based on these materials.
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