Oxford turbines to harvest energy from tides

Sep 10, 2008
Oxford turbines to harvest energy from tides
A prototype turbine, above, has already performed well in tests. The full-scale device would measure up to 10m in diameter.

Oxford researchers have developed a new tidal turbine which has the potential to harness tidal energy more efficiently and cheaply, using a device which is simpler and more robust and scaleable than current designs.

The team includes Prof Guy Houlsby, Professor of Civil Engineering at Oxford, Dr Malcolm McCulloch of the electrical power group, and Prof Martin Oldfield from mechanical engineering. They have designed, built and tested the device, a horizontal axis water turbine, to intersect the largest possible area of current. The rotor is cylindrical and rolls around its axis, catching the current.

A prototype 0.5m-diameter turbine has already performed well in tests, proving the benefits of the blade design. A full-scale device would measure up to 10m in diameter, and a series of turbines can be chained together across a tidal channel.

The team has calculated that a tidal site 1km in width could produce 60 Megawatts of energy.

The turbine is mechanically far less complicated than anything available today, and requires fewer generators and foundations, meaning it will cost less to build and maintain. The manufacturing costs are about 60% lower and the maintenance costs are 40% lower than current tidal devices.

By 2009 the team plans to conduct sea trials in open water, leading to a full commercial scale up by 2013.

The UK is estimated to have 10% of the global extractable tidal resource. Tidal currents are sub-surface, so tidal turbines have minimum visual impact, unlike wind farms or estuary barrage schemes.

Isis Innovation, the University’s technology transfer company, has patented the turbine device, and is looking out for potential investors and development partners.

Provided by Oxford University

Explore further: Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A better water wing to harvest tidal energy

Mar 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The eternal ebb and flow of tides—24 x 7 x 365—makes them a dependable source of energy, but how to harness all that, especially in shallow water? Shreyas Mandre and colleagues at Brown ...

Ocean mavericks in Maine turn tide for electrical grid

Sep 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—Sadly speaking, the U.S. ocean-energy industry has had to take a back seat to Europe, where government subsidies help entrepreneurs and innovative companies work on their technologies. Happily ...

Scotland passes turbine test to harness tidal power

May 20, 2012

(Phys.org) -- An underwater turbine being used for harnessing tidal power to generate electricity for homes and businesses has successfully completed its testing period in the island of Eday, one of Orkney’s ...

Scientists predict sea states for renewable energy

Dec 12, 2013

Tidal and wave technology is finally coming of age and the UK leads the world in the development of this vital renewable energy resource. Bangor University is playing a crucial role in this: as the industry ...

Study determines best arrangement of tidal sails device

Sep 17, 2013

In the long sprint to find new sources of clean, low-cost power, slow and steady might win the race—the slow-moving water of currents and tides, that is. Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
not rated yet Aug 22, 2009

Won't work long. These people need to learn more about the marine environment or they will never build successful tidal/river generators. I built a batch in the 70's that worked fine.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...