Published on August 3rd, 2009 | by Ruedigar Matthes0
'Oyster' Could Be the Secret to Harnessing the Ocean
There is a new force on the wave-energy front. It’s called the Oyster. If it is successful in its debut this autumn, it could change the face of wave energy forever. You see, this giant electricity producing machine is different from conventional wave-energy machines. And those differences could make it extremely marketable.
The Oyster is unlike other wave power devices in that it uses hydraulic technology to transfer wave power to the shore to be converted into electricity. The machine has an 18m wide oscillator, which Dr. Ronan Doherty, Chief Technical Officer of Aquamarine Power the Edinburgh based company which has developed the first ‘Oyster’, says is a key to the machine’s design. The oscillator is fitted with pistons, which work according to wave action. The pistons pump high-pressure water through sub-sea pipelines to shore, where traditional hydro-electric generators use the high-pressure water to create electricity.
“Oyster technology is highly innovative because it relies on simplicity,” says Dr. Doherty. ”Its offshore component -a highly reliable flap with minimal submerged moving parts – is the key to its success when operating in seas vulnerable to bad weather where maintenance can be very difficult. There is no underwater generator, power electronics or gearbox underwater to go wrong. All the complex power generation equipment remains easily accessible onshore.”
The innovative device is designed to be near-shore in water depths of 12 to 16 meters, since these locations contain more consistent seas and narrower directional spread of the waves. The reduced wave height and load enhance survivability and allow a high percentage of annual average power and consistent power delivery. Any excess energy “ducks” under the waves as water spills over the top of the rotating flap.
Cleanliness is also a big advantage of the Oyster. Rather than using oils as hydraulic fluids, the Oyster uses only water; and the machine uses no toxic substances. But not only is the Oyster clean and environmentally friendly, it is also silent.
And with estimates coming in that each Oyster could save as much as 500 tonnes of carbon each year, it could be the cleanest way to clean wave-powered energy.
Source: Science Daily
Photo Credit: MSH* via flickr under Creative Commons License
Image Credit: AlphaGalileo Foundation