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Australia Power Hardware Technology

Ocean Energy Tech To Be Tested Off Australian Coast 103

cylonlover writes "The researchers at Australia's BioPower Systems evidently looked at kelp, and thought, 'what if we could use that swaying action to generate power?' The result was their envisioned bioWAVE system: 'At the base of each bioWAVE system would be a triangular foundation, keeping it anchored to the sea floor. Extending up from the middle of that foundation would be a central column, topped with multiple blades — these would actually be more like a combination of the kelp's blades and floats, as they would be cylindrical, buoyant structures that just reach to the surface. The column would join the foundation via a hinged pivot, allowing it to bend or swivel in any direction. Wave action (both at the surface and below) would catch the blades and push them back and forth, in turn causing the column to move back and forth relative to the foundation. This movement would pressurize fluid within an integrated hydraulic power conversion module, known as an O-Drive. The movement of that fluid would spin a generator, converting the kinetic energy of the waves into electricity, which would then be delivered to shore via subsea cables.'"
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Ocean Energy Tech To Be Tested Off Australian Coast

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:37PM (#38287772)

    Funny that people assume this isn't harmful because studies have shown that low frequency sounds from turbines, generators, and the like are damaging to local ecology.

    Still, nothing is going to be 100% safe. I just can't stand "greenie" morons who think there won't be problems. They may be different problems but they're still problems.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @11:59PM (#38287884)

    That's what geothermal energy is for.

    Ideally, you would combine gravity + oceans + geothermal:
    * Siphon water off the ocean
    * It falls down a long tunnel, turning a fan
    * It heats up, goes up another shaft turning fan #2
    * Redirect the vapor back into shaft 1

    With wave & geothermal, we [would] all the energy we need.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:10AM (#38287930) Journal
    They could just be suckers(or playing the investors for suckers); but it could also be that, while most of the rough geometry-level stuff has been obvious for some time, advances in materials will make the thing work better in practice...

    Moving parts + marine environment = endless well of maintenance and sorrow. It wouldn't too much surprise me if a dash of some of the cooler fluorocarbon polymers and elastomers could add years to the service life of something that would otherwise be spending more time in the shop than in the chop...
  • Re:Well (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:41AM (#38288044)

    The technology has probably advanced in subtle ways that are not sudden jumps. Prices of components/materials may have gone down without any significant change in the components/materials themselves. Small improvements in materials, generators, transmission, and modeling that allows for optimal design, could all render a previously uneconomical project economical. Or a series of small improvements in the design, etc.

  • by ZombieEngineer ( 738752 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @12:50AM (#38288082)
    Another system just off the coast of Fremantle, Australia (west coast of Australia) [] Does not produce electricity directly but very high pressure sea water which can then be used directly in a desalination plant and the waste run through a hydraulic turbine to generate mechanical / electrical energy. Given that wave energy is nearly constant around the clock, generating fresh water rather than electricity does have its advantages, doubly so in a very dry part of the world. ZombieEngineer
  • Fish on tap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @01:23AM (#38288204)
    I did a bit of work at a pump storage mini-hydro plant once (only two little 250MW generators) which is used to supply power at peak times so operates at about the same time each day. Lined up at the netting designed to keep idiots from driving their skiboats up to the outlets were a lot of very large turtles and a cormorant on nearly every float - just waiting. Each day a lot of very confused fish get dumped at that spot.
    The turbines in that case wouldn't mince the fish - the blades are fairly blunt, run at relatively low revolutions and are so far apart that I entered the tunnel behind a turbine by climbing through a gap between two blades. Of course it was all shut down for the week with the pipework exiting the turbine removed.
  • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @01:53AM (#38288324)

    I don't know, if deep enough underwater storms won't really effect it.

    Since its producing energy anyway you could easily run some current to provide active corrosion resistance.

    Anti fouling coatings are avaliable although this will certainly remain a maintenance item.

    Seems like a simple enough design that it might work... I think at the end of the day feasibility will be driven more by economies of scale and steady build up of dead labor engineering costs out of the system.

  • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @02:00AM (#38288344) Homepage Journal

    Agreed, the mechanical problem is something that could have resolved in the 1880s. It's the fact that you're immersing these in a solution that is 3.5% salt, and then moving them through a 45 degree arc every 10-15 seconds. Corrosion is going to be a huge problem, and those hydraulic cylinders are going to wear out pretty quickly. Material science can probably fix that, but to make cheap, green power you need to build things not made from unobtanium.
    Perhaps if the generator were integrated better in to the system, this would look more likely, but the modular design has be skeptical.

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @02:10AM (#38288396)

    There's a very, very simple reason why this tech isn't going anywhere. It has nothing to do with whether or not the maintainence problems are solvable at some cost.

    All wave energy is is water pushed by wind. Thus, you are capturing energy that was originally offshore winds. For any given number of dollars, you could try to tap this energy source by :

          Placing your device in the air, where all the internal workings are available for inspection and you can choose a location with relatively rare adverse weather events (like the interior of a country away from the coast)

        Placing your device under water, with all the maintenance costs that involves and the need for scuba gear and high $$$ divers to even work on it.

    Unless we somehow run out of good spots to put windmills on land, it will always make more sense to spend the next marginal dollar on another windmill (or solar panel, when the price per panel finally gets cheap enough)

    It's possible in theory that some day wave generators might be cheap enough to be worth using instead of burning natural gas or coal. But at that point, wind and/or solar will by definition be even cheaper THAN THAT because the same materials science that made the wave generators work has made the solar/wind even cheaper!

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle