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Teenager Develops Cheap Device to Harness Energy from Ocean Currents

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HannahHerbstand2014winner2-889x625Fifteen years old high-school student from Florida develops an ultra cheap technology to harness the power of ocean currents.

One more brilliant invention is to be added to the list of great inventions by teenagers. Hannah Herbst, a bright student at Florida Atlantic University High School, developed an instrument that has the potential to save millions of lives in developing countries by providing them with renewable energy. Her innovation is a prototype of an instrument that can harness the power of ocean currents and convert it into electricity.

The inspiration for the development Hannah got from chatting to her pen pal in Ethiopia. There, the lack of electricity for many communities means miserable living conditions and fighting for life every single day. Motivated to do something in order to help her friend, Florida’s bright student entered Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. She was coupled with Jeffrey Emslander, a 3M scientist, who is known for numerous patent technologies, which help protecting the environment by using minimal electricity.

The pair had three months to develop their floating probe, which consists of a 3D-printed propeller, a pulley and a hydroelectric generator. The device costs only $12 (without including the price of the 3D printer), and converts ocean’s movement into electricity. Because of its small size, it can generate enough power to charge an electronic gadget (or a water desalination machine, as the makers state), but the technology is very promising and might one day be upscaled.

Unfortunately, Hannah’s device will not be able to help directly her friend, as Ethiopia does not have an ocean, but I am sure many other communities around the globe will benefit greatly from the technology.

The teenager won against nine other students, and was awarded the prize of $25,000 and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist. The finalists also took part in two other challenges- Combining 3M technologies to yield new solutions, and Building simple machines using scientific and engineering principles.

Image (c) Discovery Education

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