An innovative device using as basis the mechanism of a human heart will make it possible to scale up wave energy generation by a factor of five.
The cutting-edge wave energy converter is produced by the Sweden-based CorPower Ocean company in cooperation with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. It features a buoy that absorbs wave-produced energy and a drivetrain that is responsible for the conversion of the buoy’s motion to electricity.
“Our wave power system greatly differs from all of its contemporaries due to the fact that unlike any of them it manages the timing between the buoy and the respective incoming wave, which is made possible via the use of a one-of-a-kind drivetrain. This way we can make sure that it is operational in time with the waters, which greatly contributes for enhancing the movement of the buoy and uses its full potential between the wave crest and wave trough and back in, disregarding the length or height of the waves,” commented Patrik Möller, CorPower Ocean CEO.
Linear wave energy is converted into rotating motion via a KHT-designed gearbox-like device, which guarantees that the converter itself can manage heavy loads and high velocities during the distribution of the load over numerous smaller wheel mechanisms.
According to the company, the system used as inspiration a research focusing on the pumping mechanism of the heart conducted by Swedish cardiologist Stig Lundbäck. It is able to generate five times more energy when regarding a per ton ratio of its total mass in comparison to other current technologies and manages to achieve it at 1/3 of the cost.
Wave energy development has for quite some time been neglected to a large degree in favor of other renewable resources due to its relatively high investment requirement for the producing of a single megawatt-hour.
The sea surface’s varying behavior leads to the creation of additional challenges that must be dealt with. The various differences regarding the waves’ height and frequency make it quite difficult to design a conversion system that would manage to completely harness the spectrum of the said waves.
According to Möller, CorPower Ocean’s gearbox is the very first available system on the market that manages to do exactly that.
The company, in cooperation with KTH’s team, plans on launching system trial tests in November that are to take place in the Atlantic Ocean.
The buoys, each have a diameter of 8 meters and are able to produce 250-300 kilowatts of power. They are to be integrated in the Atlantic in a co-op effort with the Spain-based Iberdola utility company.
The company has carried out numerous tests in France and Portugal and as of recent has a small scale testing facility based at KTH.