A wave energy technology is being developed that could help generate electricity at low cost for thousands of homes.
The device costs less than conventional designs, has fewer moving parts and is made of durable materials. It is designed to be incorporated into existing ocean energy systems and can convert wave energy into electricity.
Small-scale experiments in an ocean simulator show that a full-sized device could generate the equivalent of 500 kW, enough electricity for approximately 100 homes. Engineers say its design could be used in fleets of low-cost, easy-to-maintain structures in the sea within decades, to take advantage of the powerful waves in Scottish waters.
Engineers from the University of Edinburgh and from Italy developed their device, known as a dielectric elastomer (DEG) generator, using flexible rubber membranes. It is designed to fit on top of a vertical tube that, when placed in the sea, is partially filled with water that rises and falls with the movement of the waves.
When the waves pass through the tube, the water inside pushes the trapped air upward to inflate and deflate the generator at the top of the device. As the membrane is inflated, a voltage is generated. This increases as the membrane deflates and electricity is produced. In a commercial device, this electricity would be transported to the coast through submarine cables.
A reduced version of the system was tested at the FloWave facility at the University of Edinburgh, a circular tank 25 m in diameter that can reproduce any combination of waves and ocean currents.
The system could replace conventional designs, which involve complex air turbines and expensive moving parts.
The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, was carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Trento, Bologna and Scuola Superiore Sant & # 39; Anna Pisa in Italy. It was supported by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union and Wave Energy Scotland.
Professor David Ingram, of the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, who participated in the study, said: "Wave energy is a potentially valuable resource on the Scottish coast, and developing systems that take advantage of this could play a role. valuable role in the production of clean energy for future generations. "
Wave energy technology creates economic limits.
Modeling and testing of a wave energy converter based on dielectric elastomer generators, Proceedings of the Royal Society A, rspa.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098 / rspa.2018.0566
University of Edinburgh
The Wave device can deliver clean energy to thousands of homes (2019, February 12)
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