- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - A project to generate energy from the St. Clair River’s strong current is moving forward with plans to install four energy-harnessing devices in the river this year.

Vortex Hydro Energy will install the devices between August and September near Dunn Paper in Port Huron, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported (https://bwne.ws/1AWbtRk ). The river is used by commercial traffic and recreational boaters and connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair.

Vortex Hydro Energy, a spinoff company hoping to commercialize technology invented and patented at the University of Michigan, placed prototypes in the St. Clair River near the paper mill north of the Blue Water Bridge in August 2010 and September 2012.

The devices - which stand about 18 feet high, 10 feet wide and nearly 12 feet long - have cylinders that move back and forth, creating energy on the river bottom. That energy is harnessed by what those involved in the $1.25 million project call an oscylator and is sent to a generator that converts it to electricity.

The devices are expected to be a few feet from the surface and buoys will indicate their presence to boaters.

Eight more are to be installed in May 2016 and will stay in the water two to three months.

Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture, marine engineering and mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, invented the technology that’s being used in the St. Clair River. It’s called VIVACE, or Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy.

Judy Ogden, a member of the Blue Water Sport Fishing Association, voiced concern that the devices could pose a hazard to recreational boaters.

“This is a high traffic area at certain times of the year,” she said. “There are people from outside the community who would not be aware of these buoys.”

There were no navigational issues in 2012 when a device was left in the river for about three months, Bernitsas said.

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Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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