Picture of Small-scale wave-power - free energy from the beach!
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).
fenikkusu5 months 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)  fenikkusu5 months ago

Can you get back to me in about 10 days?

(I'm about to go on holiday)

fenikkusu Kiteman5 months ago
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.6 months ago

That's something to consider for future versions.

icsdcorg1 year ago

I would like to test the WAVE ENERGY PROJECT in JAMAICA

What could I do?

Kiteman (author)  icsdcorg1 year ago

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


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.

dgt19732 years 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)  dgt19732 years ago
(Check your You inbox.)
dgt19732 years 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)  dgt19732 years 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)  Dreamchronic2 years ago
Haha, thank you.
drcolaless2 years 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)  drcolaless2 years 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:
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.
dragonbtv3 years ago
further images
Kiteman (author)  dragonbtv3 years ago
Yes, that's the installation that inspired me to do this project.
This video has 3 different options for wave power:
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.
DoctorDv3 years ago
Kiteman (author)  DoctorDv3 years ago
Thank you!
Tracy_Marie3 years ago
Add handles for carrying parts. Make some parts "nesting" for easier transport. Make a storage area for sandbags and a folding shovel. Keep going, I love this concept. I'd try, but disabled old ladies with no knowledge of generators would need a lot of "help". I seriously want to know how it goes.
Kiteman (author)  Tracy_Marie3 years ago
I refuse to believe that age stops you contributing - if nothing else, you can badger the younger folk you know into having a stab at this as well.
Not age per say, severe disabilities as well. Besides, I don't happen to have any "younger folk" available at all. My youngest friend is 42 and has his own family to take care of. My care taker is 67 and losing his ability to care for me. However, you will notice that I did use my brains and made a couple of suggestions regarding easier transport. I have also been read some info about those generators others have mentioned so as to become better informed, thus becoming able to make some useful suggestions to Kiteman.
Kiteman (author)  Tracy_Marie3 years ago
wndwalker3 years ago
remember the childs toy that had a large disk type object that spun around a screw type device that went through it? It was a spinning top.It had a handle that when pushed down the top would spin up and down the "screw" device. Take that same idea, place it in a wave/air tunnel and I think you would have a great electrical producing machine. There are so many variations that could be harnessed to this wave idea that it isnt funny. I actually designed an idea long ago of a turbine that could be placed in a tidal "current" between 2 or more rock outcroppings that formed a tunnel with both ends open and the middle that got tight, a vortex design. The force of the tide coming through this is enormous. A large turbine placed in the middle would produce power at both incoming as well as out going tides. There is a short period when the tide "ebbs", changes direction and goes the other way, usually about 30 min. Other than that, it's a jam up idea. PS the ebb tides have different times up and down the coast, so no generators would be stopped at the same time..giving constant power every where all the time...turbines I believe would be much better than blades from windmills that are currently working under water. just my opinion.
Edgar3 years ago
Great Project, as usual, Kiteman. You deserve a Video, read the Subtitles:

Kiteman (author)  Edgar3 years ago
That's really cool, and could be reproducible on the hobby/educational scale (thinks; bicycle pump?)
Edgar Kiteman3 years ago
Simplified, I should think so...
Even not so simplified, using those Refrigerator Gases instead of the Water pressure circuit...
Tommunbeig3 years ago
An excellent project. It reminded me of Stephen Salter of Edinburgh University whose Ducks for generating power in the 1970's from the waves.were 90% sucessful at energy retrieval and conversion. If you are going ahead with a project be very careful that you are not fobbed off with a direct competitor to evaluate your work. The UK government requested the UK Atomic Energy Commision to do the evaluation. They completely fouled the calculations and came out with a result that was less than 0.9%. Eventuaklly they had to admit this, but by then there was another oil boom.
Kiteman (author)  Tommunbeig3 years ago
I remember, that only hit the mainstream media in the last year or two, didn't it?
timmyzog3 years ago
This is a really cool concept! What about something really simple like using PVC pipe in an L shape. The base of the L could be in the water with large diameter pipe. A few reducers and then a 90 degree elbow could get you to the top of the L. The fan would reside at the top of the L. You could make the top of the L pretty tall to avoid salt water in your electronics. If there wasn't enough volume differential, you could add some Ys and add several bottom sections to increase the intake volume. That might also allow you to design a more stable base. One leg could be filled with sand as an anchor? My guess is that the best power would come from the highest velocity air so the larger the bottom volume and the smaller the top pipe, the greater the output?
Good luck and keep working!
This was exactly my first thought! The basic setup would be fairly easy to maintain and transport, leaving only ensuring that the electronics are isolated from corrosion or are relatively corrosion-resistant in manufacture (or ideally, both).

This strikes me generally as a great project - as an avid sailor with a bluewater ketch that I intend to take to the sea with in the next year or so, the ability to generate power in remote locations is a big part of my plans. While I'm anticipating large solar capacity on the boat itself, while visiting remote islands and the like it would be nice to have reliable power generation. I'm fond of this project for laying the groundwork for a nice, portable 'seapower' system.
Kiteman (author)  timmyzog3 years ago
Oh, that's a nice idea!
Nature does this on its own. Many beaches have a blowing rock. All it takes is a slab of rock that the waves can rush under and a hole in the rock. In mild waves a blowing rock can spray water and air thirty feet upward or perhaps even more. If a tube were placed over that blow hole a fan could be spun with good force.
There nust be video of blowing rocks on the net.
Very nice thinking that simplifies the design well. This would make the entire assembly much easier to move up and down the tide mark as the tides rose and fell. Most beaches in the world have tides that span at least a couple of feet vertically and on the "flat" beaches the author targets this translates to dozens of feet horizontally typically. I'm assuming the idea is that the device would be manually moved up and down the slope if needed. But with a tall enough vertical and a long enough horizontal, your design might allow the device to remain in one place throughout the tidal cycle. We are, after all, dealing with water pressure here, not waves directly; just the pressure change as the depth of the water changes with wave action.
dragonbtv3 years ago
I think water is far more better than air as a working flow because of either its quality or its behavior under compression...
I think having several of these wave generators strategically placed to cover low tide to high tide will at least give you constant 24/7 power generation. I will try to recreate this in an exhibit. Very interesting project.
Kiteman (author)  dexterandrada3 years ago
An exhibit? Cool, let me know how that goes.
Flash6353 years ago
Off topic really, but not too far. I was at an island in the Solomon Islands, they had a big diesel generator right beside a fast flowing creek that drained from the mountains.

It flowed so hard that when I waded in to less than knee high the water started dragging me along and I weight 130kg at the time.

So, why not a water powered generator?
Kiteman (author)  Flash6353 years ago
I'm going to guess that the generator, in the first analysis, was easier - dump it place, crank it up and you've got power.

A similar-scale water plant requires thought and effort, building structures in the water and re-shaping the riverbed. Too hard for people when diesel fuel was cheap and plentiful.

Plus, I don't know the climate there - possibly the river was seasonal?
Wazzupdoc3 years ago
I'm curious as to how the fans hold up in the water. I know they are brushless, but are they sealed?
Kiteman (author)  Wazzupdoc3 years ago
just checked, and one's making a slight grinding noise when I turn it by hand, so I guess they have sand in them now.
mgalyean3 years ago
I have to politely disagree that tidal energy has been ignored. It has been researched incredibly deeply. And repeated shied-away from. The engineering problems are not trivial given the harsh salt-water environment, sea life (barnacles), variances caused by tidal forces, storm surges, and dozens of other issues. There is a reason archeologists are rarely seen working beach sites. You see them inland, and on the sea bottom out from the shore, but at the shore itself everything gets churned to oblivion in natural wet-sanding process with crashing waves to pound what remains. Add to that the requirements that any technology not interfere with marine life or be a navigation hazard and the engineering and legal requirements are mind-boggling. I'm the first to detest over-regulation, but merely for arguments purpose, I would bet dollars to donuts your test set-up is in violation of some EPA or other federal law of some flavor. What happens when the spawning sea turtles get caught in your device? What happens when your device floats away and holes a pleasure craft and a 2 year old drowns in the ensuing confusion? Let's assume that all that is covered by the design and legal paperwork and permits approved from here and there. What materials are you going to make it out of? I highly recommend titanium or stainless stee and that it be moored/mounted to a piling designed to hold an 55 gallon drum stable in a hurricane given wind, surge, and wave action.

In short, nearly every way to generate power has been deeply investigated at this point. The fact that it isn't being exploited commercially is usually because there is no economic incentive to do so. The wall is too steep.

All that said, the coolest tidal harvester design I've come across was one that used oscillating horizontal foils under water (think whale tales).

And not that you went "there", but it is interesting that teacher's unions give 10 times more money to the Democratic Party and candidates than "big oil" gives to any party or candidate combined. So it isn't "big oil" keeping tidal/wave energy down. ;^)
www dot opensecrets dot org/orgs/list_stfed.php
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
Goodness me, over-react much?

I am a *British* teacher, do your implications of conspiracy are utterly void.

Now, please go back to the beginning of the project, and read what I wrote.

- this is an early prototype
- it it meant to be a temporary installalation
- it is meant for disaster relief.

Not only do the EPA have no jurisdiction over me, neither do they have jurisdiction in the intended market, and the environmental impact of the device is no more than a single child digging a hole in the beach. As it stands, the device is over 99% biodegradable by mass, and the rest is recyclable.
I certainly meant no insult. I'm sure there are analogous regulatory agencies in the UK so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to cross the gap. No reason to over-react in turn. Are you a physics teacher?
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
I teach all sciences, specialising in physics, and I also teach what the US call "shop".

Compared to wind and solar, wave and tidal (two different things, which you seem to have conflated in your arguments) are massively under-researched and under-funded.

The reason is partly to do with oil companies (BP, for instance, is investing heavily in solar technologies), and partly to do with badly-written laws. It is far easier for a company to earn "green" credentials by having a wind turbine on their factory roof than it is for them to persuade the board of directors to invest in an off-shore installation that is invisible to the public.

Another factor is that wind power managed to catch the public imagination at just the right time, and the wind technology companies paid attention to the lobby techniques used by petrochem, so (certainly in the UK), the phrases "green energy", "renewable resources" and "wind energy" have all become synonymous.

The other thing is accessibility - Joe Public can buy their own wind turbine, or build one, and use it themselves wherever they are. They can keep a solar cell in their pocket to charge a torch. They can only work with oceanic technologies if they have easy access to the sea.

I live on an island, never more than 70 miles from the sea, but I know people who consider the sea "too far". And when I was testing this device I had a very pleasant chat with a more mature lady who was seeing the sea for only the third time in her life, since she came from, I think, Missouri.

All of which is a long, rambling way of saying - yes, wave and tidal *are* ignored, by the people who have control of the public purse, and by the media types who prefer to do their piece to camera from dry land. I'm doing my best to "paint it popular", and keep it in the public eye.
I'm uncertain it is the "public purse" that should the target if your goal is success. Most countries are mostly of broke these days from overspending on irrelevant stuff. IIRC the UK falls into that category. Maybe you should write up a grant proposal and submit to BP. I live on an island also in coastal NC, USA, and know first-hand what happens to anything with moving parts in a matter of weeks in this environment without constant babysitting and maintenance. From boat hardware, to tools, to dock fittings, to fishing gear, it all bio-degrades very quickly unless made of spendy materials and additionally nurtured with all kinds of coatings and greases. My point is simply that it being "ignored" may be more related to the steepness of the engineering and economic slope than lack of favor "at court" so to speak. I don't think that any amount of government favor can make the engineering or economic issues any more tractable.
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
Trust me, it's politics (I have contacts in the wind industry). A turbine is an object that can be pointed at as "green" without great investment. Wind-power is subsidised by the government, so it can be sold to the grid for less than it costs to produce. Solar has a similar subsidy for home installations, but no other renewable energy resource has such support.

UK government documents on renewable energy targets all specifically mention wind turbines, but all else is bracketed as "and other resources".
glorybe Kiteman3 years ago
In the US one could not use wind power in most places. In rural areas or for micro generation of power our laws are relaxed but for any serious use of a windmill or similar device a great deal of strict regulation must be met. Even blocking a bit of sun light from a neighbors property can be a legal disaster or a slight hum from the device or the consequences of a tornado or hurricane all cause the law to get involved.
There are some buoy like designs for marine generation that are very simple and should require little maintenance. The buoys are anchored and the lifting of a wave causes mechanical motion inside the buoy that is converted to electricity. I suppose that a boat may strike such a buoy now and then but we have no way to totally idiot proof the world.
correction: whale tails! though I'd love to hear some whale tales.

here is a link to the horizontal oscillating foil approach:
www dot pulsetidal dot com

web search "Pulse Tidal home" if that is easier. I have no connection to them, just think it is a cool approach.
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
(You can add links here, this isn't YouTube, vis: Pulsetidal)
So no comment on Pulse Tidal? But thanks for the edification on links. That is valuable knowledge for certain. I thought Pulse Tidal was interesting anyway. For one, they harvest the energy of the wave directly from the motion of the water rather than indirectly via compressible air which is moved by the water so there should be an efficiency gain over the Limpet approach. Less friction overall and no heating losses (upon compressing the air; it must compress some if it is to turn the turbine).
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
I try not to make snap comments on subjects I know nothing about. The Pulse project is new to me, although I believe the Japanese are working on something similar.

(By the way, you're still mixing up wave and tidal. Pulse is a tidal scheme, designed to work with predictable flows of vary large volumes of water, harvesting energy imparted to the whole ocean by the Moon's orbit. Limpet is a wave device, harvesting energy imparted to the surface of the sea by the wind.)

Each works best in a specific location, utilising the local energy supply.

Limpet is proven, having been in operation for a number of years, but is only suitable for locations with regular large swells.

Pulse has yet to go into production (it's first commercial unit was commissioned this year), but I have reservations about it's life-span. Being an oscillator, and with a lot more moving parts than a rotary turbine, the various parts are subject to a wider range of variable stresses and strains than a turbine. Add to that the complexity of a hydraulic generator, and the restricted number of locations* in which it's design would be advantageous over a rotor, I'm afraid I am not an immediate fan.

(*Very few locations with the strong, non-turbulent tidal flows are few and far between.)
Slicerr23 years ago
planet mechanics made one of these and it worked great they usesed a special turbine called a wells turbine that spins one way for blowwing and suction
Kiteman (author)  Slicerr23 years ago
The proper Limpet unit uses a Wells turbine, but they are complex and a protected technology, which defeats the desired simplicity and openness of this project.
wpople3 years ago
There are a few things that might work: You are working with the energy transfer between mediums every time this happens there is a loss of power (water-air-rotation mechanical-electrical). you could build it deep enough that it will cover the tidal range and have multiple inlets with some kind of valve that is closed unless water is opening it. Think about going underwater altogether the fan if marine grade would work same principle. how about going with a strait piece of something vertical sticking in and out of the water and one end is free and the other has a magnet inside a coil. Add wave motion and you have everything. or have long thin flexible piece of something with a magnet coil on each end. GL
Kiteman (author)  wpople3 years ago
Don't forget, I'm after a small, simple, portable unit. Your ideas, whilst good, defeat many of these requirements.
weemanrd3 years ago
If you could get the use of one, then a vacuform machine would allow you to create a single continuous shell which you could then cut the holes out for the turbines to be simply clipped in AND that would also allow you to quickly create a large number of shells cheaply AND allow easy and relatively cheap transport as they could simply be stacked together like those disposable plastic cups.
Kiteman (author)  weemanrd3 years ago
>Adds idea to list<
rhackenb3 years ago
A few years back someone had put several turbines on the bottom of the Hudson River in the NYC area. They basically were like windmills under water. They were in a tidal portion of the river so that tides going either way generated a lot of electricity. The problem was that they were undersized (I think I remember something like 8 ft diameter) and the tides broke them. I thought they were going for something bigger but have not heard anything further. They are supposed to using something like this in Ireland where a river meets the sea.

Your idea of placing your wave generator on a beach where the waves comes in is the start of an idea. I don't know how you would ever solve the high/low tide issue in a practical sense. Maybe an alternate solution would be to fix the device on a pier support and have it raise and lower with the tide. It would always be sitting at water level (spoken with all the expertise of someone sitting in the middle of a corn field that has never seen a tide).
Kiteman (author)  rhackenb3 years ago
You're thinking of Strangford Lough - the turbine has been running successfully  for over four years, and has been given the "all clear" by all interested parties, including environmental groups.

Ranie-K Kiteman3 years ago
Kiteman (author)  Ranie-K3 years ago
I second your idea. The hardest part of this project would be keeping sand and drift wood and other items from footing io the intake. I pier would offer a much better location and might be able to work as the tide rises and falls. Perhaps mounting on a floating dock would solve the low/high tide issue.
flyingpuppy3 years ago
Does anyone know of small turbines that can be ported to rivers to use the motion of river water for wall scale energy production? I agree with you that there are more sources than are being taken advantage of.
Interesting concept, but when you slow down the river water (by taking energy from it) the sediment falls out of it causing silting. Heavy silting causes alterations to species environments, navigation hazards, and concentrations of any pollutants in the water in the "drop zone". The fact that the most power is in the center of the river in the main current, which is exactly where boats and floating tree trunks will tend to be, makes the engineering and legal challenges even more interesting.
Kiteman (author)  mgalyean3 years ago
You seem obsessed by the legalities of green energy. Why is that?

In the UK, you do not need any sort of legal permission to drop a small turbine in a river, nor to leave a low-impact device on the beach.
I think that might be because here in the US we have 10 lawyers for every engineer, with laws that cover everything (seldom enforced laws but if you start to become financially successful competition will insist the laws be enforced). In the US there are laws against interfering with wetlands and riparian areas, unless you're an oil company dumping oil out of a offshore well...
Where I am in Canada you need an environmental impact study to get a permit just to move rocks on the shoreline, and I'm not talking about big ones, small ones that you can move my hand!

Having said that, I do believe research is more important than legality

The otherpower website has some great info on home-brew power.
oldboffin3 years ago
With a quick think, perhaps the retreating water didnt spin the 2nd turbine as it was just draining out, and lacked the kinetik energy of the wave coming in ( think about the difference in the speed and energy of a wave breaking on the beach, and its gentle retreat )
Perhaps one turbine ( with a bridge rectifier to harness current if it does spin the other way on a retreating wave ) might be best, ? no valves

I admire your grit to actually get up from the keybard and go and do this !
The energy of flow back may not be apparent but I'm fairly certain that the slow pull back of a wave equals the energy expended when crashing upward on the beach.
In my area we have huge salt water areas with tidal forces under bridges that could generate tremendous energy. I've seen units in milder tidal flows that actually warped the metal of the propeller blades or fan blades depending on how one describes them and those blades are very, very, strong. Many tons of water flowing at twelve mph generate serious torque on those fan blades.
jumbonot3 years ago

Those fans look like brushless DC fans to me(as are nearly ALL cpu fans and such nowadays). How can you possibly expect power output from one of these without any kind of internal rework or modification? I love the simple approach to the basic device, but I'm afraid that without modifications to the fan motors' internal circuitry there won't be any output regardless of how the rest of it works.

Kiteman (author)  jumbonot3 years ago
All I was after at this stage was "proof of concept", and in that context this was a success.

Future steps (by me, or by others) will be, by any definition, "better" - better turbine design, better generators, better shell design, better materials...
blanchae3 years ago
The nice thing about projects like this is the dialogue that ensues. It brings up many pros and cons about the projects and solutions that are out of the box because the community hasn't been trained to think in one direction.
Kiteman (author)  blanchae3 years ago
Very true.

Sometimes a long way out of the box! (But, sadly, as you may see in this thread, there are still a few overly-confined minds as well...)
Shinea Kiteman3 years ago
I likely shouldn't poke a finger into an already sore eye, but the previous comments from one of your evaluators did not seem to come from an "overly-confined mind". In fact s/he brought up some well considered and thoughtful criticisms, some of which I thought were quite relevant. The over all concept of your mechanism is an excellent example of similar projects my father-in law, who was an exuberant creator of gadgets very similar to this, tried to develop until he was faced with exactly the sort of problems described by mgalyean. In this day and age, the engineering is the easy part.
It strikes a balance, the "overly-confined minds" bring us back to reality. The "long way out of the box" provides the brain storming that feeds other ideas and concepts.
and pushes the envelope...
papatait3 years ago
If I remember correctly, there was some years ago a power generation system built into ocean buoys to charge the batteries that ran the lights on them. The action of the buoy riding up and down with the wave action moved the water column in the center of the buoy to rise and fall and drive some sort of generation device to recharge the batteries in the buoy.
Today there is a lot of solar panels on most of the buoys to power them and with the use of led lights, the power consumption is greatly reduced. If you have any of the new yard solar lights sold in most dollar stores and other retailers, you know they last all night with just a aaa battery powering them.
The only problem in the ocean environment is keeping the seagulls off the solar panels.

I believe either in Maine or Canada there is an area that captures the rising tide and runs it through a generator to produce power. They have like a 12' tide where this happens. I think it was in the Bay of Fundy, but not positive.
One of the big problems with anything near salt water is corrosion especially in electronics. We have been trying to use some solar led lights on the dock down here in Buzzards Bay , and just the salt air causes rust inside the led lights on the aaa battery and contacts. We are trying the use of heavy grease on the contacts now, hopefully it works.

I found the instructable very informative and also the comments useful.
ScotCan3 years ago
Previous post said Darrieus lying on their side...doesn't need to be that way in your concept...one of these turbines takes the place of the two shown in your snapshot and the bifurcated duct with a balanced valve plate arrangement allows greater efficiency because there is no opposing torque. great instructable I'll build one for use on Lake Erie shoreline....it's a shallow lake with brisk sou'westerlies and choppy waves...need to do the math to get it right.
rimar20003 years ago
Very interesting work, Kiteman!

Some ideas, IMHO.

Maybe you could improve the design of the air valves, that could fix the problem of the "... inlet fan did not seem to move at all ".

If the tower is thinner, the inner air will be more effective, being less compressible.

To avoid to make the device heavier, you could add a big basin over the platform, to fill it with water "in situ".
Kiteman (author)  rimar20003 years ago
I couldn't diagnose the valve issue at the scene, but I think that the in-flowing air simply did not flow in that way - the mouth of the device opened up quickly, letting air in that way.

Thinner tower, yes, I see that. Also taller.

If I make it too heavy, it will be too hard to move with the tide, which is why I thought of sand anchors (a kind of cork-screw peg that dog-walkers and kite-flyers use to anchor their pets).
ScotCan Kiteman3 years ago
How about a Darrieus turbine lying on its side? Since that turbine doesn't care from which direction the airflow comes, there is a reasonable double push as the incoming air rotates the turbine and the return air does the same. Even simpler a Savonius in a bifurcated duct where one half gets the inrushing air and the other half gets the return air...that way any opposing torque on the other side of the turbine is nullified and Savonius are really simple to construct.
Kiteman, water is easier to manage than sand, in order to augment the weight of the device. Therefore I suggest the basin. It can be a cheap plastic one, with enough capacity to contain some gallons of water and so keep the device leaning on the floor.

I have not experience with sea, but maybe the waves can move those sand anchors easier than the basin, if the tide is not so high.

I am doing conjectures without knowing, your device is very interesting.
rusty_nail3 years ago
Would it work better? If you used short piece of PVC say 4" pipe reduced down to 2" or 1.5" for higher PSI or make like a bellows in the top of the box water pressure rushing in compresses the bellows and it having like a 1/2" outlet the compressed air is super charged forced through the small opening giving higher PSI mounting the fan inside PVC that is tight fitting to controls the air through the blades reducing lost air flow around the blade as well as turbulence causing drag on the fan.

Just a thought , very cool Ideal I like the project I could see this working on a very large scale.
chipper353 years ago
Yep, the tower has to be taller. Very clever and I like that you see the positives alongwith the minuses!
it just proves he is a true scientist. any person of science has an objective mind that sees the successes and failures of an endeavour, rejoices over the successes and contemplate how to eliminate the failures.
Hats off to you Sir. This is absolutely brilliant. I build a syphon wave generator. http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Siphon-Wave-Generator/
Hey, this thing is great. I love that you're trying something new.

I'm thinking that a bent pipe would be a good go, as mentioned above. What about adding a loop to the pipe's top before the turbines so that water could definitely not get to the turbine?

something like this:


Where the * is a turbine and the @ is a 270 degree pipe bend. Making a loop before the turbine should prevent water but not air from getting up.
Also, I'm pretty sure wave power isn't caused by wind like you suggest, but by all the fishies having a massive party in the middle of the ocean!
Instead of a higher tower, how about a good length of flexible hose to a spot high and dry. Turbines could be connected here out of the reach of water & sand. If the idea takes off of the machine riding up the beach with the tide, how about a drag line and anchor to keep the mouth facing the incoming wave.
mgalyean3 years ago
On a related note, the approach at this link (http://www.aw-energy.com/concept.html) seems to also have some potential for a portable individually operated unit that would be very benign on the environment and fairly resilient.
Inspired by your ible, I made a little illustration of some thoughts around this idea. Please have a look.
etlerd3 years ago
As for your inlet suction problem, make the entrance to the tower lower and shorter than the height of the inlet opening, and slope the inlet top down from opening to tower entrance to further concentrate the force of the water. Now the suction should last longer, until the height of the water drops below the top of the tower entrance and breaks the suction.
surenjpr3 years ago
very nice... that's great concept.
Kiteman (author)  surenjpr3 years ago
Thank you!
Mrballeng3 years ago
Great instructable! I felt like I was there with you, even on the subway.
Prototyp 813 years ago
great concept! sometimes rubber boots make things easier ;)
Kiteman (author)  Prototyp 813 years ago
They don't stop the sand getting in your boxers, though...
Excellent start up project, which I have a few thoughts about.
Obviously choice of a less float able material might let you get of the box and not wet your boxers.
A thought on moving the installation. What about placing floating devices about level with the wave catcher part. When the tide is going in, you only have to place the device as far out as the water is at present, and as the water rises the waves them self will lift up and push the device gradually further in as the tide rises.
I know it's wish full thinking that it would always work, but I think it's feasible with some tweaking.
Another thing would be to put a few detachable water tanks (soda bottles) on the top of the wave catching part to work as ballast instead of your self. Before you place the device, simply take of the tanks go down to the water and fill them up!
When you're done, detach the tanks and empty them. No harm done.
Combining these two ideas might cancel out one or the other though, but it would need to be tried out I think.

I look forward to see the progress on this, and related projects.
I just noticed the comment from rimar2000, and want to say that copy of his idea was not my intention. Although my idea was slightly different with detachable tanks to bring down to the water instead of a basin on the top of the wave catcher.
Kiteman (author)  Duplo for Daddies3 years ago
That's cool - all input gratefully received.
Cambenora3 years ago
You travelled all the way to Oakland, CA to cut your plywood? Or am I missing something?
Kiteman (author)  Cambenora3 years ago
Not exactly - the plywood was already there, I cut it and Noah brought it back for me.
Ah. That makes sense (sort of). Some sort of international cooperation thingy I guess.
Kiteman (author)  Cambenora3 years ago
I had the plan, he had the tools. Seemples.
bulsatar3 years ago
Do you have to stick with air. Seems it would make sense to put it a tad deeper in the waves and have the water push instead. With the greater torque of the mass the water provides, you could beef up the motor to pull more on each rotation.

I couldn't tell on your instructable, but did you have a 1 way on your fan side also? Congrats on being really innovative!!!
I think water turbines would be the way to go as well. Simply from an energy standpoint. Moving water has a lot more energy available than moving air.
in your disaster relief section you put "unit, and wave power is usually more reliable than either wind or wave." did u mean solar instead of wave? but all other notes aside, this is a great idea. its amazing how something so simple could be placed almost on any coastline and used for emergencies or even continues use.
Kiteman (author)  KevinAlien263 years ago
Oops, good catch [edits].
lemonie3 years ago
Have you been to that tide-mill at Woodbridge?

Kiteman (author)  lemonie3 years ago
Not yet - I never seem to remember about it when I have the time to go...
lemonie Kiteman3 years ago
It's nice, free tidal-energy. Thanks to the moon I suppose?

Kiteman (author)  lemonie3 years ago
At root, this is solar power, since the waves are driven by wind, which in turn is driven by solar heating.
ilpug3 years ago
Very nice, although the problem of improving inlet suction is a tricky one indeed. Such a great idea!

It looks like a fantastic project, all we need to do is make this something that can be done on a grander scale for coastal cities, that would take quite a burden off of the power companies.
useraaaaa3 years ago
what about low tide?
Kiteman (author)  useraaaaa3 years ago
The original intention was for a small, portable unit to be used in emergency situations.

As the tide changes, the user would simply drag the generator up and down the beach as required.

At the moment, though, it is purely a prototype, and the act of building and testing it has given me a bunch of other ideas for generating power in similar locations (ideas which would, I hope, not involve me getting sand in my boxers...)
Nice idea.
I have some friends who spent a few weeks in Thailand a couple of years ago, they rented a beach hut with no power at all & although they got on quite happily with cooking whenever they travelled the 15 miles to the nearest town to buy supplies part of the day was always spent in a hotel bar that would charge their cameras, ipods etc. for them, something like your unit would be ideal for such locations, I'm sure they would prove very popular if hired out with the huts.
Can't help much with the boxers I'm afraid, perhaps you could try some duct tape around the bottoms :-)
I don't know why, but the thought of you lugging all that onto the subway amuses me greatly.
Pat Pending3 years ago
Great proof-of-concept instructable - well done!
I like this very much. The other wave-powered generators I've seen are underwater deals with big turbines. Lovin' the small-scale and the beach location.
A Really intresting concept :).
Kiteman (author)  stephenniall3 years ago
Thank you.

I hope other people can take the idea further, maybe figure out the "perfect" proportions for the shell.