Snapper wave energy system receives funding

North east engineers have been awarded £20,000 by Design Network North to develop a new rotary wave energy generator.

The money has been awarded to the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and will fund researchers at Newcastle University’s Resource Centre for Innovation and Design (RCID) who plan to build on the ’Snapper’ technology invented by Prof Ed Spooner, formerly of Durham University.

Prof Spooner’s Snapper works like a typical linear generator in which a set of magnets mounted in a translator is moved up and down inside multiple coils of wire of an armature. However, there is a crucial difference with Snapper: alongside the armature coils is a second set of magnets of alternating polarity.

These armature magnets prevent the translator magnet assembly from moving up and down smoothly in relation to the armature. Instead, magnetic forces between the armature and translator repeatedly couple the two sub-assemblies together until the external force is able to overcome it.

This results in a series of faster relative movements between armature and translator, which are more suited to classical electrical generation.

Narec’s research and development manager Paul McKeever said that the rotary wave energy generator could provide a significant breakthrough in improving how energy is extracted from the sea.

The generator is one of 30 innovative new devices and products in the north east being funded by Design Network North, which was established by One North East last year.