A device that harvests energy from waves and is inspired by the mechanics of the human heart is being tested in Orkney.
It’s hoped that the C3 wave energy converter system will bring renewable power to remote islands and inlets, and produce five times more power per tonne than other systems.
It has been developed by Swedish start-up firm CorPower Ocean, with the help of a pan-European group of research partners and based on research from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
The C3 is a type of point absorber system. It consists of a buoy that absorbs energy from the waves, and a drivetrain to convert the motion of the buoy into electricity. It’s based on patents by Swedish cardiologist Stig Lundback, inspired by his research into heart pumping and control functions.
The device employs a special ‘gearbox’ which works like rack-and-pinion steering on a car, converting the horizontal motion of the bobbing buoy into a sideways action that generates electricity, and, in conjunction with flexing units, allows the system to handle high forces and high velocities at the same time.
“Besides enabling equal load sharing, these make the transmission compliant, which protects against shock loads,” said Stefan Björklund, associate professor at KTH.
The system is now connected to a floating microgrid unit provided by the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, which will enable it to behave as if it were connected to the grid for these tests.
According to CorPower CEO Patrik Möller, Orkney was the natural choice for the test. “We are seeing immense value in working in the Scottish ocean energy ecosystem, where we can benefit from lessons learned from previous wave projects,” he said. “Working closely with the Orkney supply chain provides us with unique operational experience to the project, as they have deployed more ocean energy devices than anywhere else in the world.”
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