FloWave Testing Facility Can Increase Tidal Device Development

With an ability to simulate waves up to 28m high the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility will prove to be a very valuable testing facility for marine energy devices. The facility is located at Edinburgh University in Scotland.

It can generate currents up to 1m per second as well as metre high waves. When scaled up this gives the aforementioned 28m high wave simulation and currents of up to 14 knots.

It will be possible for developers and researchers to come to the testing pool to put closer to full-scale devices through their paces. The tank provides 1/20th scale model testing conditions which makes a link between the 1/6 scale and above conditions of the open sea and the 1/100 ‘flume scale’ test modelling. These devices could be anything from wave and tidal energy converters to floating offshore platforms as well as installation vessels.

FloWave Testing Tank

What this means is that the testing time can be greatly accelerated to the point where results that once took months or years to achieve in open water can be reduced to days or weeks in the controlled conditions.

It has cost £9.5 million to fund FloWave and this was provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Edinburgh University.

The tank is impressive in its specifications with a 25m diameter. It contains 2.4 million litres of fresh water at a depth of 5m. This means that it will be possible to fit 28 submerged flow-drive units in the pool that can simultaneously and independently drive current across the tank.

Over the top of the tank sits a 5 tonne crane that will enable fast installation or removal of devices or wave and tidal current generators.

The new FloWave facility will allow tidal device developers the opportunity to do their testing with significantly lower risk. For those developers who have already sited their devices in testing locations in the open water the facility provides the opportunity to take the lessons that have been learned and try them in the tank using a modified design.

One of the companies that is already using the facility is AlbaTERN which is refining the performance of their SQUID wave power devices that will be used to construct their planned WaveNET arrays. This refinement is taking place before introducing the devices to the open water.

Prof Philip Nelson, EPSRC chief executive, said: “The FloWave facility will help keep the UK at the forefront of marine energy technology research and development.

“Research here can accelerate the deployment of these technologies which, in turn, will help us meet our low-carbon targets create jobs and boost growth.”

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