In certain situations, river current is detrimental; e.g. erosion of river beds, breaking of banks, and making submerged structures like columns of bridges unstable. The current dredges up river floor sediments at certain locations causing river beds to sink. The sinking of the river bed in the river Rhine has been a problem in Germany and needs to be maintained regularly by dropping sediments into the endangered areas.
Additionally, the foundation of submerged structures is also weakened when deposits are shifted. The collected deposits create undesired areas of low water depth downstream. Moreover, strong currents break river banks resulting in the loss of accommodation in many coastal areas of the world every year. Tackling the river current at locations of risk is the problem this project attempts to solve.
Erosion control and renewable energy harvesting by damping river currents using a canopy of artificial Kelp. Nature has been protecting shores and riverbanks primarily through aquatic plants that dampen the waves. Kelp has been known to withstand the harshest of waves. Kelp Carpet proposes that a canopy with an artificial kelp-like structure could be an innovative and biomimetic solution to not only dampen the energy in currents but also to harvest it.
Proof of concept
The following video demonstrates the working principle of an artificial kelp-like structure.
As an engineer and bionicist, I know that this should work, but should is not how we work. We need something concrete, verifiable, and quantifiable. So the plan right now is to conduct a PhD. With the doctoral studies done, we would have simulations and all the proofs and statistics on how the system works and does not work. With all those data in hand, the plan is to go into production.
The rising water level is an alarming issue among the many climate change problems. Kazi is convinced, that his research will provide a sustainable solution for the erosion control while keeping the river course uninterrupted. He also aims to develop a new technique to harvest renewable energy as the secondary goal. Institutions on government levels should be interested in it as it tackles the problem by opening avenues to financial growth by saving costs of maintenance and creating a more sustinable way of power production.
Kazi Eham Uddin is scientific staff in the project „Bionics – international and digital“ at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences.
Kelp Carpet was awarded second place at the Best Idea Cup 2022 at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences.