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Anaconda rubber tube produces wave energy

A snake-like 200 m rubber tube with a hydraulic turbine driving an electric generator could produce 1 MW of wave energy, according to British Checkmate Seaenergy.

The Anaconda wave energy generator is a distensible rubber tube anchored to the seabead in waters up to 50 m deep, floating just beneath the water surface following the movements of waves.

The wave energy device is moored at the bow so that it always faces waves head-on. The movement of the waves creates a bulge wave inside the rubber tube, which is filled with low-pressure sea water. The bulge wave travels down the length of the rubber tube before hitting the hydraulic turbine at the stern creating electricity.

The Anaconda wave energy converter is mainly made of rubber and therefore has very few moving parts to maintain, which could prove it to be more resilient to harsh offshore sea conditions than other wave energy converters, according to Checkmate Seaenergy. It also has the potential to bring wave energy prices down to £0.09/kWh compared to the general £0.25/kWh, writes British newspaper the Guardian.

Checkmate Seaenergy says the wave energy device has the potential to generate power off any coast with wave strength over 25 kW/m. Smaller versions could also be produced to be co-located with offshore windfarms. The Anaconda is envisaged to be grouped in farms with 20 or more machines producing over 20 MW.

Paul Auston, Chairman of the Checkmate Group, says: “We’ve seen excellent results in scale model testing, and we are now gearing up to attract the necessary investment to develop Anaconda and take this proven concept through to full commercialisation within the next five years.”

The Carbon Trust has conducted an independent study on the Anaconda, and according to Checkmate Seaenergy, the study found that “it has the potential to deliver breakthrough reductions in the cost of wave energy” and that “it could represent the next generation of marine renewable energy.”

The device is in the final stage of proof-of-concept testing at QinetiQ’s Heslar Marine Technology Park in Hampshire, UK. The first field of Anacondas could be in commercial production and start deployment off the UK coastline by 2014, according to QinetiQ.

The project is the subject of an UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant funded study.

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