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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number EP/P017088/1
Title Wave Energy Converter for small communities
Status Completed
Energy Categories Renewable Energy Sources(Ocean Energy) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering) 100%
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Mr A Kyte
No email address given
Sch of Engineering
University of Plymouth
Award Type Standard
Funding Source EPSRC
Start Date 03 October 2016
End Date 02 October 2017
Duration 12 months
Total Grant Value £98,633
Industrial Sectors Energy
Region South West
Programme Energy : Energy
Investigators Principal Investigator Mr A Kyte , Sch of Engineering, University of Plymouth (100.000%)
Web Site
Abstract Despite the vast wave energy resource available in the world's oceans, financial obstacles associated with developing large scale, complex Wave Energy Converters (WECs) have prevented widespread deployment. Costs related to survivability of extreme weather, offshore maintenance and infrastructure to carry the power from device to power distribution grid have proved prohibitive. Criteria for investors to fund development tend to focus on ability of large WECs devices to economically supply electrical power into the grid for use by concentrated populations.The concept presented in this proposal takes a different approach, aiming to service more dispersed coastal communities (primarily in less developed countries) where infrastructure to supply electrical power, safe drinking water and to support viable agriculture may be lacking. The concept is for a small scale wave energy converter that can easily be manufactured, deployed and maintained by the very communities that it will serve. It is constructed from readily available waste materials that are otherwise difficult to recycle, making the concept attractive in terms of sustainability and carbon footprint. Whilst undoubtedly inefficient in comparison to large scale WECs, efficiency is substituted for practicality, poverty relief and community ownership. Initial estimates suggest a typical output of around 38KWh/day (sufficient to power a Rural Medical Centre incorporating x-ray and other diagnostic devices) or desalinate up to 10,000 litres of water.The device will pump seawater, supplying fluid power rather than electrical power. It will operate in shallow water, minimising cost of piping the flow to shore. Most simple devices proposed to pump seawater to shore using wave energy suffer two fundamental problems. Firstly, they usually involve sliding-contact seals, which are prone to failure, often due to corrosion and build-up of marine growth. Secondly, the value of the materials used can be significant, making theft a very real risk, and making storm damage costly/difficult to repair. The device proposed is innovative in that it does not require sliding contact seals. Also, the fact that it is constructed using waste materials means it has little resale value and is cheaply repaired or replaced if damaged.Once onshore, the flow of pressurised seawater can be desalinated for drinking water, used to generate electricity or used for agricultural purposes such as salt-tolerant crop farming (for biofuel) or in saltwater greenhouses (irrigating conventional crops). An advantage of pumped water is that it can provide energy storage (pumping to an elevated tank), thus supplying power only when required. Industrial partner Mott MacDonald will provide expertise in desalination and other end uses for pumped seawater.The research conducted by Plymouth University (PU) will focus on analysis and development of the WEC itself. They have already developed basic software based prediction toolsor Numerical Models (NMs) and have conducted experiments on the proposed waste materials to give initial estimates for device performance. This grant will enable them to:1) Expand functionality and accuracy of the existing NMs. This will provide much more realistic simulation of the way the WEC will behave in a given environment.2) Carry out further experiments and engineering design work on the pump itself, to more closely define the form that the final pump will take.3) Design and manufacture a representative scale model (that will replicate scaled forces and pumping capacity) for use in a wave test tank. 4) Test the scaled device in PU's Ocean Basin wave test tank in a variety of wave types and operating configurations. These tests will generate data that will be used to validate the NMs. Once validated, the NMs will generate reliable performance predictions for the WEC in real, full scale conditions. They will also be used to optimise the size/shape of the WEC
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 19/03/19