There have been a lot of new designs for systems that can harness power from the waves, tides, and currents flowing in our oceans, but a new concept, currently in the testing phase, struck me as unique. BioPower Systems, based in Sydney, is developing systems to capture energy from both wave and tides, and currently has two products in ocean-based pilot projects, the bioWAVE and the bioSTREAM.
The wave power system, bioWAVE, was inspired by the swaying motion of sea plants, like kelp, as waves rolled over them. The device, which is anchored to the ocean floor, has buoyant “blades” which move upward and downward with the flow of waves. What was particularly interesting was that in rough conditions, the system will automatically lie flat against the bottom, preventing or at least minimizing damage.
The bioSTREAM, in contrast to its brother, uses the principle of Thunniform, the main method of locomotion of large fish, commonly seen as the side to side motion of the tail. The system, however, uses the principle in reverse. Instead of being propelled forward, the anchored generator turns the tail fin from one side to another, capturing the flowing water on its surface, pushing the “tail” section, the resisting torque of which produces electricity to be fed back to land. Once again, due to its streamlined design, it can align itself with current flows, avoiding damage and overloads during extreme conditions.
Both systems, though in the pilot project stage, are eventually expected to come in models that will produce 250kW, 500kW, and 1000kW, matching the specific conditions in any given area.
written by Bryan Roberts, May 30, 2008
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