Alexander Gorlov, pro­fessor emer­itus of mechan­ical engi­neering at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has been nom­i­nated for a 2011 Euro­pean Inventor Award for designing an envi­ron­men­tally friendly water turbine.

The winner of the award — among a range of inventor honors launched by the Euro­pean Patent Office and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in 2006 — will be named on May 19, at the Hun­garian Academy of the Sci­ences, in Budapest, Hungary.

Gorlov is one of three nom­i­nees for the award hon­oring inven­tors from non-​​European coun­tries. Other Euro­pean Inventor awards honor those in industry, research, small and medium-​​sized enter­prises and life­time achieve­ment. The awards honor ground­breaking con­tri­bu­tions to inno­va­tion, economy and society in Europe.

His work on the Gorlov Helical Tur­bine — which won the 2001 Amer­ican Society of Mechan­ical Engi­neers Thomas A. Edison Patent Award — dove­tails with the University’s focus on use-​​inspired research that addresses global imper­a­tives in health, secu­rity and sustainability.

Ocean cur­rents and tidal action power the low-​​cost, envi­ron­men­tally friendly tur­bine, an example of dam­less hydro tech­nology. Its ver­tical struc­ture fea­tures blades twisted like strands of DNA. A Gorlov tur­bine cur­rently powers some 500 homes on the Korean Island of Jindo.

My tur­bine has no neg­a­tive impact on the envi­ron­ment,” said Gorlov. “Con­ven­tional tur­bines that require dams inter­fere with migrating fish and other water habi­tats. Dams also cause flooding prob­lems, which can destroy agri­cul­tural land.”

Gorlov started working on extracting power from tidal energy some 35 years ago. In 1976, he emi­grated from Moscow and joined the fac­ulty at North­eastern, where he cre­ated the renew­able energy Hydro-​​Pneumatic Power laboratory.

Power from ocean and tidal cur­rents, he said, is one of most reli­able sources of energy. “In con­trast to wind, solar and geot­hermal energy sources, poten­tial ocean energy can be pre­dicted for centuries.”

Gorlov retired from teaching in 2001, but con­tinues to apply for grants and
 offer his exper­tise to student-​​researchers. He has pub­lished more than 100
 tech­nical papers and books and holds 25 national and inter­na­tional patents.

I’m always involved,” he said.