Wave of the future

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and Aquamarine Power, a marine energy company, have joined forces on a new five-year research partnership to develop a new hydro-electric wave power converter.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and Aquamarine Power, a marine energy company, have joined forces on a new five-year research partnership to develop a hydro-electric wave power converter.

Already their existing partnership has resulted in the creation of the company’s Oyster wave power device, which is designed to capture the energy found in amplified surge forces in nearshore waves.

The first prototype of Oyster, a hydro-electric wave power converter, is to be launched at sea for the first time this summer at the European Marine Energy Centre off the coast of Orkney.

The latest five-year deal will see Aquamarine work alongside the Environmental Engineering Research Centre at Queen’s. The team from Aquamarine will model several devices in the state-of-the-art wave tanks in the university’s Civil Engineering Department and at the Marine Biology Centre at Portaferry.

Led by Prof Trevor Whittaker from the Queen’s School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, the team will monitor loading, survivability and how the devices interact with each other to guarantee continuous power output in all sea states.

The partnership will also provide Aquamarine with access to a second, larger wave tank, due to open at Queen’s Portaferry facility. The tank is being part-funded through the university’s Institute for a Sustainable World initiative.

The Portaferry facility will allow the team to test groups of wave power devices that can be deployed in large numbers to form offshore power stations.

In January, Aquamarine announced that it had appointed ABB to complete the electrical engineering design and construct the electrical generating system for another of its devices – the Neptune tidal stream device.

With the contract worth more than £2m, ABB will also install and commission the system at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, where Aquamarine will demonstrate the first full-scale Neptune system.