This Floating Wave Energy Turbine Is Inspired by a Natural Phenomenon, the Blowhole
If you have ever witnessed a blowhole (also known as a marine geyser) in action, then you know it can be exciting and ferocious at the same time – depending on the incoming waves or swells. Wave Swell Energy Ltd. (WSE), based in Australia, drew inspiration from this natural phenomenon and came up with the Uniwave. It’s a floating turbine that uses proprietary technology that converts wave energy into electrical energy. This WSE technology produces clean, sustainable electricity sans the use of oil or other contaminants. While it’s not considered a mainstream renewable, like wind or solar, waves “are predictable, reliable and a naturally occurring infinite resource,” meaning this system is a solid generator of electricity!
The Wave Swell Energy (WSE) technology encompasses the deep-rooted concept of the oscillating water column (OWC). In other words, the OWC is an artificial blowhole that is made up of a chamber that’s open underneath the waterline. As waves pass the OWC, the water rises and falls inside. This action forces the air to pass by a turbine at the top of the chamber, which in turn generates electricity. What makes this OWC technology stand out from the rest is that it operates uni-directionally, instead of the standard bi-directional operation. This uni-direction makes it less complex yet more hearty and dependable. Plus, it displays a higher energy conversion efficiency.
The Uniwave doesn’t affect wildlife as there are no moving parts in the water, but it can also act as a reef for schools of fish. The sole moving parts in the technology include the turbine and bespoke valves, which are high above the waterline. If needed, the Uniwave can be re-floated and towed to another location.
These beneficial wave energy projects can relocate expensive diesel in remote locations across the globe, while also helping to alleviate coastal erosion. When these WSE units are strategically placed in close proximity to one another, they function as a breakwater or sea wall. This protects the coastline from erosion and simultaneously generates a constant source of revenue from the electricity generated. Currently, Uniwave is operating off the coast of Tanzania.
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