A Brooklyn-based New York start-up, Pliant Energy Systems LLC is exploring highly novel methods of harvesting energy from moving water. Architect Benjamin Pietro Filardo founded the company in 2007, to explore renewable energy concepts that he first considered while studying oceanography and aquatic plant physiology.
Pliant Energy’s patented technology is not a modification of conventional, turbine-based methods; it involves multi-stable non-linear systems using planar hyperbolic geometry and flexible electroactive polymers to capture hydrokinetic energy via dynamic material strain. Its goal is novel and challenging: affordable, energy-generating technology that can harness the power of flowing water with mechanisms of few or no articulated moving parts.
Partnering with HPCNY computational scientists, and engineering researchers from Scientific Computation Research Center (SCOREC) at Rensselaer, Pliant Energy is able to advance its analysis techniques by applying higher fidelity multi-physics computer models, enabling advanced simulations that greatly improve the overall design and performance of its components and systems.
Pliant’s unique idea of how to extract more energy from flowing water is becoming a reality, and interest is growing. With their multidisciplinary team approach, Rensselaer and HPCNY researchers developed the robust models and simulations needed for a complete technical understanding of the physical behaviors underpinning Pliant’s systems.
Bringing such high-level creative and technological resources to bear helped establish a proof-of-concept for Pliant’s technology, and as a result, Pliant was awarded two (Phase I and Phase II) grants, totaling $450,000, from the NAVY Small Business Innovation Research Program to produce its technology.