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Small-scale wave-power - free energy from the beach!

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Wave power is a much-neglected source of renewable energy.  More consistent and reliable than wind, it is suffering badly from lack of investment.

There are two main focuses for wave-power; off-shore waves, where the rolling action is exploited by floating buoys or the proven Pelamis system, and on-shore systems, where waves are used to push volumes of air through turbines, like the Limpet system, currently running off the Island of Islay.

This project is a proof-of-concept for a micro-scale system, based on the general concepts of the Limpet, that could developed into a useful source of power for remote beach communities, or exploited commercially to charge tourists' gadgets at the beach.

There are three motivations behind this project:

1. Disaster relief / Power-poverty relief.

A device like this (made of light materials) could be delivered as a flat-pack to areas that are deprived of power (through natural disaster or material poverty), and close to the sea.  Although not enough to cook with, it could be used to charge batteries for radios, lighting or cell-phones (there are a surprising number of areas with good cell-phone coverage, and yet no available mains electricity).  The parts for a unit like this are cheaper and lighter than a solar- or wind-based unit, and wave power is usually more reliable than either wind or solar.  It could even be sent as just the turbine unit, with diagrams on how to make the shell from indigenous materials or debris, maybe with a selection of design tweaks that could be chosen from depending on the local beach conditions.

2. Commercial applications.

I can imagine beach-side stalls, the ones that sell sun-tan lotion and trinkets to tourists, could also provide a service charging up tourist iPads, Kindles and phones.  Again, because of the simplicity and low cost of the component parts, it would be easier to fund for an independent start-up in a poverty-stricken area.

3. Education.

For some reason, discussion of renewable resources in the media begins with solar, ends with wind, and mentions nothing else.  Unfortunately, the same is also true in education.

I can tell my students about wave power systems, and show them pictures of experimental or commercial installations, but the only hands-on kits available are all solar or wind-power based.  Having a project like this available encourages younger students to think outside the box, gives them a chance to get hands-on with a real system, and also provides a starter for older students to work on their own projects (this design is far from perfect, and I am really keen to see where other people can take this idea - see the final step).
 
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fenikkusu22 days ago

I hope you get back to me Kiteman because I have thoughts and questions and I'd like to have some dialogue here. I just watched the TED lecture on "Global warming at work (chasing ice 2012)" on YouTube. Anyone here who is interested in the far reaching effects of the devastation we have done to this planet REALLY needs to take a look. Fascinating and terrifying all wrapped up into one little rather not so neat package, while our politicians still debate if global warming is even a "thing". It's tragic and our planet is screaming for help.

And that's where you step in! Which I think is brilliant and amazing! I have always thought the same, that renewable energy comes in two forms solar and wind and what about the big third option, water. It seems to be consistently overlooked. It's as if we've spilled a glass of it and then picked up the throw rug and quickly covered over that option! Why is that?

What is the reason that we do NOT go this route? I think at least to me it is a huge unanswered question. I'm in the states, so over here we have a huge example in the Hoover Dam that is hydro-electric. I very well know there are other examples. I know in Syria there's a small hydro-electric dam. In Canada they speak in terms of their bill from hydro and how big the bill is. And I know this is slightly off your project here but we're still dealing with the movement of water to create electricity, no matter how you slice it. You are incorporating the movement of water to create wind to harness energy (Gads I love that!) but really why DO we shy away from harnessing the power of water. When our Hoover Dam was built why didn't we put up 49 more? So what holds them back! There has to be something.... SOMETHING .. that makes this NOT a winning proposition for the politicians. What are the reasons why. I mostly ask it because someone said directly to me... "If its such a good idea then why didn't we go with hydro-electric for instance after the Hoover Dam was built?"

I have an artesian well at my house that has such a strong force of water that it had to be plumbed with an overflow shunt or it would blow the plumbing apart in my house. It flows into a cistern in my backyard. I have always thought its such a waste. Its good clean drinking water. I think about using it for my garden. I also think about trying to harness energy from the flow with an impeller. The water flows through a pvc pipe anyway on its way to the cistern. Maybe I could gather enough electricity to light my chicken coop or something. I honestly don't have these sorts of skills...lol. But I do dream about being able to do these sorts of things.

Anyway You are brilliant. Its a wonderful instructable. Your energy and excitement seems to come through in your write up! Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us! And please remain my friend in pushing for solutions for the planet that made good common sense! Fantastic!

Kiteman (author)  fenikkusu22 days ago

Can you get back to me in about 10 days?

(I'm about to go on holiday)

It will be most welcome! Have a lovely time!

the russians made something very similar to this during the war and discovered it had to do with the air hydraulics (suction etc) so the shape of the chamber was shaped like a wave and the fans were placed in the small corner of the tip of the wave so the air flow was channeled and concentrated at a focal point of sorts.

Kiteman (author)  badsaddamdotnet.2 months ago

That's something to consider for future versions.

icsdcorg11 months ago

I would like to test the WAVE ENERGY PROJECT in JAMAICA

What could I do?

Kiteman (author)  icsdcorg11 months ago

You could copy this, design your own, or have a look at the other wave-power projects on the site:

http://www.instructables.com/howto/wave+power/

skaar1 year ago

i'd been thinking of my own design, much bigger, but still could be made in a disaster area. mine would have been a large tube attached to anchors that keep it facing the waves, an outlet tube going up the side of a hill or cliff to a turbine. it'd be fixed so it would rise with the tide or sea level rise. i might have been inspired by ovens park.

for a portable, maybe a box going out into the water, set on driven posts and stones, anchored and weighted so it floats right near the surface, but stays where it is. dig the base in, cover it with rocks, being out past the sand it wouldn't fill up. the shape on bottom would be flat, the sides and top would be straight, going to a funnel shape, then to a straight tube.

Kiteman (author)  skaar1 year ago

Go for it!

skaar Kiteman1 year ago

when i have some land... i'm at least another year in an apartment.

dgt19731 year ago
@kiteman Yeah, since 2006. The wavetank test facility was bought by another company this May and i managed to keep my job, we're still set-up to test WEC's. All the technology was sent to Germany and archived for future reference. It was and still is quite upsetting to see Limpet go, it was a living breathing thing.
Kiteman (author)  dgt19731 year ago
(Check your You inbox.)
dgt19731 year ago
I like the idea of small scale! I worked for the company, Wavegen, who built limpet,unfortunately its about to be flattened as the parent company Voith just pulled out in may 2013, citing the same reasons as Eon when they pulled out of Pelamis, the technology needs to mature.
Large scale wave power wont be economically viable for a long time yet, probably not in my lifetime. Ive worked alongside guys who were around in the beginning and they all say the same thing, on the surface wave power looks great but to build something to withstand the forces of a 100 year event and to produce power economically is impossible at the moment when you consider the price of concrete/moorings etc..the honeymoon period is over, people are having o prove to their investors that they have a viable device, unfortunately no one has yet, id say the closest is Aquamarines Oyster, but they have problems as due to politics the power utility SSE refuse to upgrade the essential link from the Hebrides to the mainland.
Kiteman (author)  dgt19731 year ago
You worked for Wavegen? Wow, I've been telling folk about Limpet for years.

Are you still in the energy industry?
i very like this idea. best is that it's portable and low-cost and you can even use it as a chair:D great:D too bad i don't have any sea around:/:)
Kiteman (author)  Dreamchronic1 year ago
Haha, thank you.
drcolaless1 year ago
two days ago a friend ask me how the waves on the ocean can be used as energy (he ask me averything, I don't know where he gets I know everything) and I did not know what to respond, this is great as a project, for school or as explanation, I really congratulate you...Great idea.
When I start to read Inmediately comes to my head, wood wont last in water...any ideas for a better material, I think if you add a couple of metal bar to be inserted into the wet sand this will keep it still.
Kiteman (author)  drcolaless1 year ago
You could make it from anything you had handy, but you can get wood called "marine ply", which is treated to resist water damage.
taftncraft2 years ago
Not only are wind turbines inefficient and unsightly they kill bats by the hundreds. Bats are an important part of our ecosystem. article:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=wind-turbines-kill-bats
Kiteman (author)  taftncraft2 years ago
Er, have you actually read my *wave* power instructable?
I LOVE this, man!
Kiteman (author)  MakeItWithJason2 years ago
Thank you!
aeszok2 years ago
Are those... stock Intel CPU fans??? or are those actually turbines? I didn't know Intel made tiny wind turbines...
Kiteman (author)  aeszok2 years ago
Just stock fans.
aeszok Kiteman2 years ago
Ah ok, now it makes sense.
aeszok aeszok2 years ago
Very nice instructable btw, how many watts do you think something like that would roughly output?
gen814652 years ago
I apologize if this has already been suggested, but to keep the water, sand and other debris out of the turbines, why not use some type of rubber bladder on the inside of the upper mechanism? As it fills up, it will still push the air out through the turbines, but would keep the debris from reaching sensitive electrical components. Also, to keep the airflow going in one direction only, why not use plastic dryer vent covers? One would be on the inside (opening inwards), and the other on the outside (facing outwards). The vanes open as air goes through one way, but snap shut when it tries to reverse direction. If it works for keeping cold air out of the dryer vent tubing during the winter, it should work fine here, and it's weatherproof.
For clarification, the dryer vent cover facing outwards would be on the outflow turbine; and the inside one for return air. I hope these are helpful ideas.
Kiteman (author)  gen814652 years ago
I have a feeling that the bladder might rob the device of some efficiency. Unless it's very loose?

The vent cover idea is what I was trying to do with the plastic film.
Love it..
Kiteman (author)  bigtreehouse2 years ago
Thank you.
dragonbtv2 years ago
further images
2009631128010636.jpg20096311285024078.jpg20096311285024078.jpg
Kiteman (author)  dragonbtv2 years ago
Yes, that's the installation that inspired me to do this project.
This video has 3 different options for wave power:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEfrtAOMuvk&feature=related
I am now sad I missed the rest of your residency. THIS! is such a cool project.
Kiteman (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
Thank you!

What's even cooler are the constructive comments: I hope folk take up the idea and move it on.
ehudwill2 years ago
Great idea. I really want to try this one.
Kiteman (author)  ehudwill2 years ago
Let me know how you get on - remember to take photos so you can post it.
DoctorDv2 years ago
Awesome!
Kiteman (author)  DoctorDv2 years ago
Thank you!
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