Alex Spiride, age 13 is one of 15 Google Science Fair finalists. He entered his squid-inspired propulsion system in the 13-14 year old category for this year’s science fair under the title “Squid-Jet: Bio-Inspired Propulsion System for Underwater Vehicles.”
Spiride states that “Squid and some other sea creatures use a very efficient mode of locomotion, know as jet propulsion. Squid will draw water into a bladder through a hole called the mantle, and then they force it out, by contracting the bladder, to shoot forwards in speeds of up to 40 km/hour.
Implementing this technique in underwater vehicles can vastly improve the efficiency with which they locomote. My proposal is Squid-Jet, a bio-inspired underwater vehicle that uses jet propulsion to its advantage. Squid-Jet easily outperforms current man-made propulsion systems and can reach speeds in excess of 30 cm/second.”
His project uses a pressurized PVC enclosure and uses an internal bladder to create a hydrojet, which moves his vehicle forward. When the PVC enclosure is pressurized with air, it forces water contained in the bladder out the back through a nozzle, propelling the enclosure forward. Water is then sucked back into the bladder when the pressure is reduced. Cycling this pressure / release back and forth propels his PVC enclosure forward (see video below).
Spiride’s project is quite impressive and he lists a number of different applications for the Squid-Jet ranging from underwater exploration, oil spill cleanup, marine biology studies, defense systems, natural gas, oil, or water pipelines.