FloWave - Circular Ocean Energy Research Pool

New Wave Media

June 6, 2014

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The unique FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, represents a great asset for reducing risks and refining performance of new marine energy designs to scale before building a first prototype, such as tide or wave energy farms. Its circular shape means waves have no reflections and can come from multiple directions, to mimic stormy seas. FloWave was conceived for cutting edge academic research into wave and tidal current interactions, the FloWave is also an amazing tool for commercial developers to ensure their technologies and projects perform as expected.

FloWave is the only research wave pool in the world capable of validating CFD layout, micro-siting and energy yield predictions with physical modeling, before companies commit to investing tens of millions in the project itself. The heart of FloWave is a 30m circular concrete basin containing the 25 m in diameter, wave and current tank. The 5m deep tank contains 2.4 million liters of fresh water and is circumferentially ringed by 168 absorbing wave makers. 28 submerged flow-drive units can simultaneously and independently drive current across the tank in any relative direction, with maximum current velocities of 1.6 metres per second.

A rising tank floor and a 5 ton overhead crane enable quick and easy installation of individual devices, or arrays of wave or tidal current generators. Because the tank is circular and therefore non-directional, waves and currents in the tank can act in any combination and in any relative direction across the large central volume 17 metres in diameter and 2m deep. Optimised for 700mm, two-second waves, the 168 absorbing wave-makers paddles can create full-spectrum multi-directional waves as well as more traditional monochromatic waves, and all this over a roughly circular test area of more than 200 square metres.

Depending on the scale chosen this corresponds to full-scale seas of up to 28m waves, currents in excess of 12 knots, and a sea-area of approximately 2 square kilometres. 360 degree symmetry of wave and current conditions. Another important aspect of FloWaves is its capability to bridge the gap between 1/100th ‘flume scale’ test modelling and testing prototypes at 1/6th scale and above in the real sea, testing at 1/20th scale at FloWave introduces a critical evaluation stage-gate into a device’s development cycle at the “Go/No-go” decision point for investors and funders. This helps to bridge the so-called ‘valley of death’ between small-scale test equipment and full- scale prototypes. The possibilities the FloWave system offers for scale testing devices designed for tapping into ocean energy is hugely important, as it will definitely help mitigate risks and cost in full scale equipment development. It will be interesting to see if such a facility will be emulated in diferent parts of the world and on what scales, as it will also be interesting to follow what kind of devices are being tested at FloWave.

Source:FloWave TT and BBC News

Scale-model Pelamis wave energy producer, being tested on a rectangular pool

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Paschoa, Claudio
Claudio Paschoa is Marine Technology Reporter's correspondent in Brazil.