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Scientists At Mass. Maritime Find Success With Underwater Turbine

BOURNE (CBS) - Harnessing the power of the ocean, right in our backyard.

Local scientists at Mass. Maritime Academy are testing an underwater turbine in Buzzards Bay. The technology could revolutionize how we get power. The machine centers around an oscillating set of blades. At Mass. Maritime, they call it a hydrokinetic energy solution.

"We're finally at a stage where we're using technology advances to actually turn that fluid power into some useful electricity," said Capt. Brad Lima of Mass. Maritime.

Blades and turbines use the wind to create power, this technology uses the ocean's current and in this case, the Cape Cod Canal.

For the past month it's been running here at Mass. Maritime Academy and without a hitch. Its designer, Shreyas Mandre of Brown University, sees a breakthrough in renewable energy.

Underwater turbine
Underwater turbine tested at Mass. Maritime Academy (WBZ-TV)

"We have a wing that is at an angle to the flow and that deflects the flow that pushes the wing up. Then at the end of the stroke it reverses its orientation so that the water is deflected the other way and the wing is pushed down," said Mandre.

Other engineering ideas have failed largely because water is so much denser than air, it quickly ruins scientists attempt to utilize it.

Mandre said, "the wings move much slower than the turbine blade would move." This means less wear and tear.

But what effect does this one ton machine have on aquatic life? So far, none.

Marine ecologist, Bill Hubbard said, "So far [we're] seeing bait fish interact and stripers interact with absolutely no impact, no impingement."

The potential for this new technology is obviously incredible and given that Governor Baker is all in on renewable energy, our state could be on the cutting edge.

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