Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Proof of concept of Power Frond Generator(23139)

Pliant Energy Systems LLC


Current technologies to extract energy from un-dammed, lower pressure water flows are primarily modifications of old technology; almost all use some arrangement of impellor blades that convert the directional flow of water into rotational motion of an axle, which in turn powers an electromagnetic generator. Additionally, the components and systems used are expensive, relative to the low energy availability per unit volume of water. A radically different energy harnessing technology is required; one that deploys cheaper, robust mechanisms suitable for non-dammed waterways, municipal water systems and other low-head water flow environments. The recent advent of abundant computer processing power and software has made conceptualizing and modeling frond-based mechanisms possible. It is hypothesized that frond-based generators using Electroactive Polymers (EAPs) should be: able to operate in open water flow environments or restricted flow environments (e.g., pipes); able to operate under a wide range of flow conditions from laminar to turbulent; highly scalable; and deployable in environments that are not suitable for conventional turbines, such as sludge flows, debris-laden flows, turbulent flows and very slow flows.

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Project Description

The goal of the project is the proof-of-concept of a turbine-free power generator based on frond mechanisms (ribbons or sheets of elastic material to which force is applied during fabrication so as to create sinusoidal deformations). The Contractor, Pliant Energy Systems LLC, shall focus on two distinct frond architectures, the Ribbon Frond and the Core Frond. The Ribbon Frond deploys large fields of low-strain EAP material, which is applied over most of the body of the mechanism. The Core Frond deploys high-strain EAP material, which is applied only in the core of the mechanism. In this case the fronds serve primarily a mechanical purpose, concentrating and directing mechanical forces onto the mechanism’s EAP core. (The Core Frond is analogous in some ways to concentrated PV). The Contractor shall model the Ribbon Frond and Core Frond architectures in parallel, until the advantages of one become clear, at which point development will focus on that single architecture. A significant portion of the program will focus on developing circuitry for the unique power management and power conversion challenges of harnessing electricity from EAPs. The specification, identification and sourcing of required electronic components will be an important part of this work since the availability of mass-produced and therefore cheap components will be a factor in determining the economic feasibility of the system.


Pliant is a New York State company, whose technology could allow more energy to be extracted from a given flow of water than conventional hydroelectric technologies.

Project Results


Pliant Energy Systems LLC
Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Ave Unit 195, Bldg 280, Ste 515
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Principle Investigator

Benjamin Filardo

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:

Energy Power Supply

NYSERDA Contact Information

Kathleen O'Connor


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 11/17/2011
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: 23139

Last Updated: 11/4/2013