Technique to make ocean wave energy attractive

A simple fix to increase the amount of power generated by oscillating water columns.


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Oscillating water columns (OWC) can tap vitality from maritime and ocean waves. The higher cost of wave vitality gadgets, in any case, remains a test. Despite being an attractive power source, wave energy remains largely unexploited due to the large costs required to build these structures.

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras have found a simple fix to increase the amount of power generated by oscillating water columns. They integrated OWC with rubble mound breakwaters to prevent coastal erosion by reducing wave activity in adjoining regions. Such breakwaters are relatively inexpensive and easier to construct.

V Sundar, a professor of ocean engineering at IIT Madras, said, “Oscillating water columns (OWCs) are embankment-like constructions partly submerged in water. There is a partial opening towards the sea-facing wall where water can enter. As sea and ocean waves have a persistent undulating motion, the water entering the column keeps varying, fluctuating the level of air in the OWC. This disturbance is used to rotate a turbine to generate power.”

Dr. V. Sundar, Professor, Ocean Department Dept, IIT Madras.
Dr. V. Sundar, Professor, Ocean Department Dept, IIT Madras.

Scientists were experimenting with different arrangements when they discovered that an array of OWC lined against breakwaters could extract greater power. They found that the array could help improve performance.

They then introduced numerous OWCs associated with seaward offshore detached breakwaters in a shallow wave bowl with contrasting spaces between them. They surveyed the OWC execution with varieties in divider weight, pneumatic force, wave enhancement factor, catch width, and other hydrological parameters.

The investigation demonstrated that when put at a separation equivalent to thrice their widths, OWC yields the greatest power. This doubled the input wave power directed from a regular recurrence of the framework.

Since OWCs linked with rubble mound breakwaters are easy to operate, they can be used in coastal regions and islands to reduce erosion while simultaneously generating power in an eco-friendly manner. Scientists have completed a proof-of-principle study and are planning to set up a pilot plant to test their hypothesis.

The study, published in the journal Ocean Engineering, was supported by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The research team also included S. John Ashlin and S.A. Sannasiraj from IIT Madras.

Journal Reference

  1. John Ashlin, S., Sannasiraj, S., & Sundar, V. (2018). Performance of an array of oscillating water column devices integrated with an offshore detached breakwater. Ocean Engineering, 163, 518-532. DOI: 10.1016/j.oceaneng.2018.05.043