Friday, December 3, 2010

Technology to turn ocean into giant power plant

Washington, Dec 2: Experts at Florida Institute of Technology's College of Engineering are testing a new technology to convert the energy produced by waves into electricity, which could the ocean into a giant power plant.

The point of the project is to demonstrate an alternative way to produce electricity that is clean, green and friendly to marine life.

The so-called Wing Waves work by tapping the elliptical motion of waves 30 feet to 60 feet beneath the surface and converting it into mechanical energy that can be used to generate power. Like offshore wind farms, the electricity produced at sea can be routed via cables for land-based needs.

"You just need a nice sandy bottom-we stay away from coral reefs-and a 40- to 50-foot depth. You can think of them as sea fans," Discovery News quoted Stephen Wood as saying.

The devices actually attract fish and will not harm sea turtles, he added.

Wood figures one square mile of wings-about 1,000 units-could provide enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes.

"This will work in any coastal region with swells coming in," Wood said.

Each trapezoid-shaped wing of the instrument stands eight feet in height and 15 feet wide. They can sway 30 degrees from side to side and complete the arc in eight to 10 seconds, said Terence Bolden, chief executive with Clean and Green Enterprises Inc., which holds a patent for the technology.

During extremely rough seas, such as during hurricanes, the wings are designed to be automatically locked down.

The prototype now working off the Florida coast is made of aluminium but operational models would be built out of corrosion-resistant materials.

"We're trying to make the whole thing as environmentally friendly as possible," Wood said.


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