Anaconda to convert wave energy into cheap power

July 5th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 5 (IANS) Anaconda, an innovative wave energy concept, holds the key to cheaper energy from the sea waves. Named after the snake because of its long thin tubular shape, Anaconda is closed at both ends, filled with water. It will be submerged below sea level, with one end facing the oncoming waves.

A wave hitting the end squeezes it and causes a ‘bulge wave’ to form inside the tube. As the bulge wave runs through the tube, the sea wave that caused it runs along outside the tube, squeezing the tube more and more, causing the bulge wave to get bigger.

The bulge wave then turns a turbine fitted at the far end of the device and the power produced is fed to shore via a cable.

Because it is made of rubber, the Anaconda is much lighter than other wave energy devices (made of metal) and dispenses with the need for hydraulic rams, hinges and articulated joints. This reduces capital and maintenance costs and scope for breakdowns.

The Anaconda is, however, still in developmental stage. The concept has only been proven at the lab scale, so important questions about its potential performance still need to be answered.

University of Southampton engineers are now embarking on a programme of larger-scale lab experiments and novel mathematical studies designed to do just that.

Using tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 metres, the experiments will assess Anaconda’s behaviour in regular, irregular and extreme waves.

When built, the full-scale prototype would be 200 metres long and seven metres in diameter, and deployed in depths of between 40 and 100 metres.

Initial assessments indicate that the Anaconda would be rated at a power output of 1 MW (power consumption of 2,000 houses) and might be able to generate power at a cost of 6 pence per kWh or less.

“The Anaconda could make a valuable contribution to environmental protection by encouraging the use of wave power,” says John Chaplin, who is leading the project.

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