Electrically Engaged Undulation (EEL) System
The Electrically Engaged UnduLation (EEL) system is a buoyancy-driven submersible device for powering oceanographic instruments. Physically, EEL is a slender body whose flexible spine is made up of energy units interconnected by uniaxial hinges. Each unit consists of a pair of piezoelectric elements that converts the bending stress into electrical current to a battery charging circuit. An outer plastic skin forms a seal against water and allows for flexibility at hinge locations. At the top is a bluff body with electronics that holds a ballast for buoyancy adjustment. The bluff body is also responsible for creating fluid instabilities in its wake. When gliding through the water (mode 2), the spine will flex in response to the alternating vortices that shed from the head. This "lock-in" phenomenon occurs when the frequency at which vortices shed resonates with the EEL natural frequency, during which the efficient gaits were found in species of sea snake, eels, and fish. For active propulsion, a single motor can be placed at the first segment and provide the oscillatory input for propulsion similar to a dolphin's kick. Such anguilliform swimming is both efficient and nearly silent compared to a spinning propeller. Ultimately, mimicking bio-locomotion provides a viable path to a drag-reduced, self-propelled energy harvesting system for ocean monitoring.
DOE Project Number: EE0008895
DOE Project Lead: Rajesh Dham
Last Updated: 6 months ago
Submitted Dec 7, 2021