A three-year, US$300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow Worcester Polytechnic Institute associate professor of mechanical engineering David Olinger to conduct research on developing a new form of ocean energy.
Duane Tilden‘s insight:
“The research builds on Olinger’s prior research, funded by the NSF and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in which he developed a low-cost kite system that used wind to generate power. Olinger and a team of graduate students developed computational models that predict trajectories and power output for kites of different sizes and tethers of different lengths, which can be used to design kites capable of flying in stable, high-speed figure-eight patterns under changing weather conditions.
The same algorithms can be applied to the design of underwater kites, Olinger said, but “instead of moving air, you have moving water and the kites have rigid wings.”
Olinger will now evaluate possible designs for undersea kites and explore methods for tethering them to floating platforms similar to those used for oil and gas rigs.
WPI said the team will also examine the advantages and disadvantages of mounting turbine generators directly to the kites or placing the generators on the platforms. […]
Olinger’s kite system is similar to one already being developed by Swedish company Minesto, though a WPI representative said the two projects are not related.”<
Minesto’s step-change marine power plant now producing electricity in Northern Ireland proving viability for huge ocean current power market
The Deep Green ‘underwater kite’ marine power plant is now producing electricity in the waters off Northern Ireland. This is the first time ever a marine power plant designed for low velocity currents produces electricity at sea, anywhere in the world, and the ocean trials verify the ability to unlock ocean currents as a renewable energy source. “This is a break-through for the entire renewable energy industry,” said Minesto’s CEO Anders Jansson.
A 10-megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion plant is under way
Duane Tilden‘s insight:
>[…] the company has been working on OTEC since the 1970s, and the technology hasn’t changed drastically since then. OTEC systems make use of the temperature differential in tropical areas between warm surface water and cold deep water. In most systems, ammonia, which has a very low boiling point, passes through a heat exchanger containing the warm water. The ammonia is vaporized and used to turn a turbine, and then it’s cycled past the cold water to recondense. This is a renewable energy technology with the rare capacity to supply base-load power, as water temperatures are fairly stable.
The ammonia passes through a closed loop, while the water comes and goes through massive pipes. The project in China may pump cold water up from a depth of about 1000 meters, using a pipe that’s 4 meters across. Varley says that some of the infrastructure can be borrowed from the offshore drilling industry: “We showed them our requirements for the platform, and they yawned and said, ‘Is that all you got?’ ” he says. “But then we showed them the pipe.” Attaching the massive pipe to a relatively small floating platform creates unusual stresses, Varley says. Lockheed also had to find materials for the pipes and the heat exchangers that could withstand the harsh marine environment.<