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Cuttlefish inspires soft material turbines

January 13th, 2020 / By: / Out There

Inspired by the cuttlefish’s undulating fin motion, startup company Undula Tech LLC has developed a turbine using soft material that can harvest the energy in flowing air and water. The goal, is to make renewable energy accessible and affordable worldwide. 

Its Undula Generator is, by design, more adaptable, sustainable and cost-effective than rotary turbines and solar panels, the company says.  

Undula Tech scientists participated in the Biomimicry Launchpad to prototype the device. According to the Biomimicry Institute, the team’s technology is designed to be mounted on rooftops or sides of homes and buildings, along roadways or in tunnels, or in flowing water like rivers or tides. One goal of the turbine is to have little or no negative impact on the wildlife and ecosystem around it. 

Turbine model.

As a wind generator, it has no tower, which the company says can save 30 percent of a generator’s cost. The device can also take advantage of underutilized placements for energy generation: rooflines, vertical corners on buildings, highway medians, and tunnels. As a hydro generator, it is fish-safe and has no toxic material sourcing or waste management problems that can burden other technologies.

Photo: Undula Tech

The Biomimicry Institute provides tools to develop sustainable solutions for a balanced ecosystem by empowering people to learn and apply nature-inspired strategies in design.