Vandergrift, PA is ditching its longtime reputation as a steel town to become a model of sustainability. First up in the transition: installing a grid of electricity-generating smart materials on the bottom of the Kiskiminetas River. The town hopes that the grid—along with a healthy dose of energy conservation efforts—will generate between 20 and 40 percent of the town’s electricity.
The underwater grid will consist of flexible strips of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), a material that generates electricity upon movement. In this case, currents in the river will provide the grid with the necessary undulations.
The resulting electrical currents will pass to substations along the edge of the river, where they will charge a group of batteries.
Details of when the grid will be installed are currently unknown, but scientists involved in the project claim that it will leave the appearance and health of the river unharmed. But I still have to wonder—what happens to a fish that gets caught in an electrical grid?