Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wave power generator nabs award

EDITORIAL NOTES: First of all, I will be at an academic conference for the next three days.  Therefore, there will be a lull in posting.
Secondly, my next post, which is scheduled for Monday the 23rd, will mark the 1000th post of ESE.  I am currently taking ideas for what to post about, how to celebrate, images to accompany the post, liquor to buy, and pretty much everything.  Now, on with the show...

It has been expensive and unreliable.

That's what most energy experts have said about power generation via sea waves.  The wave power generators currently in use tend to work best when struck by waves traveling in one direction.  They also get overwhelmed in turbulent seas.  I know that seems counter-intuitive.  You'd think the stronger and more frequent the waves, the more power you would generate, but that's not so.

But now a UK engineer has designed a wave power generator that finds ways around said limitations...and he's won a James Dyson (yeah, that guy with the vacuum cleaners) award for it.

Sam Etherington said he got the idea for his new design while kite surfing on the Cumbria Sea and considering how ocean waves rarely move in a predictable fashion as current wave generators require.  As the BBC reports:

"To harness the energy that abounds in such restless waters, Mr Etherington came up with a design that uses a long chain of loosely linked enclosed pistons. Energy is generated as the chain of generators flexes in the peaks and troughs of each wave.
The wave power generator was partly inspired by its designer's time spent kite surfing
"The ocean is a harsh and unpredictable environment," said Mr Etherington. "It is better to work with the forces than to repel them."
He added that the hard part of the development work was finding ways to replicate the chaotic seas that the generator can make best use of. Data taken from buoys moored in the Orkney Islands was used to make waves in a water tank at Lancaster University and prove the prototypes could generate power in such conditions."

Money from the Dyson award will allow Etherington to fully develop the device and run tests.

Good thing, I say.  The need for Green energy sources is self-apparent.  True, there is debate as to whether this new design will overcome the hurdle of expense.  That's been commonly fleered against renewable energy, right?  It's too expensive compared to the energy generated?  As they say in 'Murica, "The juice on that ain't worth the squeeze?"

Well, we need to do something.  The world's power needs will continue to increase exponentially.  If we value our future and our world, said power will need to be efficient, affordable, and most of all clean.  That's a tall order, I know.

The only way to make it happen is by encouraging research and development such as Etherington's.

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