Jul 24 2013

Advancement wtih Anacondas

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Ocean wave energy is certainly gaining popularity around the world but it is still in its beginning stages. There are many different prototypes of machines that have been tested in the recent years and some do well but others don’t do very well. Therefore, no design has been come up with yet that is widely accepted as the best and most efficient wave energy converter. However, the Wave Anaconda might just be that break through that wave energy machines need.

Picture of the Wave Anaconda

Picture of the Wave Anaconda

Although wave energy devices seem pretty promising, they are definitely trailing offshore wind and tidal devices in terms of power generation. The main reason for this is that devices that generate their electricity by way of a turbine appear to be more efficient than any other type of energy generating system. Offshore wind and tidal devices almost all use turbines as their bases for power take off, wave energy devices however, do not. But that is where the Wave Anaconda comes in. It is one the first wave energy prototypes that uses a turbine, almost directly spun by wave energy as its power takeoff mechanism. Most of the other types of wave energy devices use the simple motion of a surge flap, a buoy, the entire device itself, or an indirect way to turn a turbine  to generate electricity. The designers of the Wave Anaconda on the other hand were able to come with a way to take the energy of a wave and directly make it turn a turbine. The wave anaconda is a large rubber tube full of water with a power generating system at the tail end. This tube is aligned so that the tail is pointing in the direction of the wave flow. When a wave passes the front of the devices is creates a bulge inside the rubber tube that travels all the way down to the tail of the structure. When the bulge reaches the tail it enters a high-pressure accumulator that speeds up the velocity of the water in the bugle wave. That high velocity water then turns a turbine, which in tern generates electricity. (For a more detail description of how the Anaconda work you can read a paper done by J. R. Chaplin and others titled, Development of the ANACONDA all-rubber WEC). Where most single wave energy devices produce power in the kilowatts, a single wave anaconda can produce up to a megawatt of power. Just image all the power a whole sea of these over-sized worms could generate.


Picture of power takeoff mechanism

Picture of power takeoff mechanism

So the Wave Anaconda’s main advantage over most other wave energy devices is that it generates electricity through the turning of a turbine. It does however have other advantages as well. Because of its relatively simple design, the Anaconda is moderately inexpensive to make and easy to install. It can be coiled up so it can fit on a normal sized barge and not need a special boat to carry it around, and all you really need to do to install it is attach a more from front side of the device to the seabed. The estimated price of a Wave Anaconda is about 1.3 millon pounds, which seems like a lot, but if you compare it to the Oyster, one of the more well known surge converters, which costs 2.5 million pounds, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Let me say the Wave Anaconda is not the only wave energy device that uses a turbine to generate power, the Oyster as mentioned above uses one and the Wave Dragon, an over topping model, also uses one. However after saying that, the wave Anaconda produces more power than the Oyster and is less expensive. The Anaconda does not make as much power as the Wave Dragon but the Dragon also costs 12 million dollars to make. So, the Anaconda produces a lot of power for its cost, because it is directly able to turn a turbine by wave energy, and that is why I believe is it the future of wave energy devices.

Sources and links:

Chaplin, J. R., F. J. M. Farley, M. E. Prentice, R. C. T. Rainey, S. J. Rimmer, and A. T. Roach. “Development of the ANACONDA all-rubber WEC.” Proc. 7th EWTEC (2007).


Overtopping Terminator

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