Tidal turbine targets largest area of current

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Kepler Energy has been spun-out from Oxford University to develop a second-generation tidal turbine.

Its developers claim the turbine has the potential to harness tidal energy more efficiently and economically as it is simpler, more robust and more scalable than current designs.

The turbine is the result of research in the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University by Prof Guy Houlsby, professor of civil engineering at Oxford, Dr Malcolm McCulloch, head of the electrical power group, and Prof Martin Oldfield, Emeritus Professor of the thermofluids laboratory.

Kepler Energy will design, test and develop a horizontal-axis water turbine intended to intersect the largest possible area of current. The rota is cylindrical and rolls around its axis, so catches the current.

The researchers received £50,000 in funding from the Oxford University Challenge Seed fund, managed by Isis, to build a 0.5m diameter prototype demonstrating the benefits of the design.

A full-scale device would measure up to 10m in diameter and a series of turbines can be chained together across a tidal channel.

UK waters are said to offer 10 per cent of the global extractable tidal resource.

Tom Hockaday, managing director at Isis Innovation, said: ‘This is the latest in a number of spin-outs from the Department of Engineering Science.

‘Isis is fortunate to work with such an entrepreneurial department, particularly on technologies that have the potential to make a big impact on our energy supply.’