Wave tank moving forward
A new deal means the University is set to help marine energy developers make waves.
FloWave TT, the University subsidiary that is building the world’s most advanced wave tank, has signed a data-sharing agreement with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).
The deal will allow FloWave to recreate sea conditions from EMEC’s wave and tidal test sites in the Orkney Isles at its £9.5 million test facility at Edinburgh.
As a result, companies developing new marine energy devices will be able to hone their marine energy ideas and concepts at a smaller scale, before deploying their devices in the sea.
FloWave Chief Executive Stuart Brown and senior University staff discuss the importance of the new wave tank.
By bringing the real sea into the lab, developers will be able to test robustness and performance against the exact conditions seen at EMEC, as well as practice deployments. This will allow them to improve their designs before they are deployed, rather than waste valuable time at sea working out the gremlins.
The collaboration will see EMEC sharing ten years of data collected from buoys and other instrumentation deployed at the Orkney wave and tidal test sites.
The FloWave team will then work with EMEC engineers and scientists to turn this recorded data into an instruction set, allowing those conditions to be replicated in the test tank.
For EMEC, the new agreement means that developers will have more refined devices to bring to site, allowing its berths to be used more efficiently.
At times I've wished I could turn off the tides and waves at the full-scale sites and reset things, and this is exactly what developers will be able to do at FloWave, making device development much quicker and easier. This is exactly the sort of facility the UK needs and we are delighted to be playing our part.
Breaking new ground
The FloWave test facility comprises a circular 25-metre pool, able to simulate combinations of waves and currents at up to one-tenth scale for normal, challenging and extreme conditions of coastlines anywhere around the UK and Europe.
The facility is being built at the University’s King’s Buildings campus. Funded by the University of Edinburgh and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), it is expected to be completed in 2013.
It will be available for academic and industry research and also has applications for testing of devices and designs within the offshore wind, marine operations and general offshore industry sectors.
The University has played a leading role in marine energy research for nearly 40 years.
In the early 1970s, Professor Stephen Salter and his Wave Power Group created the "Edinburgh's Duck" to generate electricity from the waves.
Subsequent research has focused on improved wave devices, high-efficiency hydraulic transmission and control, and a new generation of wave tanks.
In all ways, this collaboration is a win-win for developers, test facilities and the industry as a whole. It supports and extends our own work in building a recognisable pathway to commercialisation of marine renewable energy devices in the UK, and here in Scotland in particular.