The extraordinary UniWave 200 is a marine platform for wave motion that uses a sort of blowhole to create changes in air pressure that drive a turbine and produce energy. After a year of testing, the plant reports excellent results.
The peculiarity of UniWave is that it can be towed to any coastal location and connected to the local energy grid. It is designed so that the wave motion pushes the water into a specially designed concrete chamber, pressurizing the air in the chamber and forcing it through an outlet valve. Then, when the water withdraws, it generates a powerful vacuum, which draws air through a turbine at the top and generates electricity which is fed into the grid via a cable.
In summary: the system draws energy from the entire water column that enters its chamber. And that makes it more efficient than wave energy devices, which only harvest energy from the surface or bottom of the sea.
All-in-one barrier and energy
Among the key innovations of this system produced by Wave Swell Energy, a design that allows for much cheaper and simpler turbines, with less maintenance, longer lifespan and no inconvenience to marine life (all moving parts of the plant are above the waterline).
Most of all, however, the fact that this design makes UniWave embeddable in dams and breakwaters works well: in other words, coastal erosion can be combated and at the same time also collected clean energy.
Uniwave for wave motion, tests: a triumph
Last year the company installed a 200 kW test rig off King Island, facing the notoriously rough sea of the Bass Strait between Tasmania and Australia. There, it supplied clean and reliable power to the island's microgrid 24 hours a day for 24 months. During testing, the WSE team also made some live changes to the design, further improving its performance.
“We wanted to show that our wave conversion technology would provide electricity to a grid with all types of waves. And we did it, ”he says Paul Geason, CEO of WSE, in a press release. "In some cases, the performance of our technology has exceeded expectations also thanks to the technological improvements made during the year."
“We have achieved a conversion rate from wave to electricity by 45 to 50% in a wide range of wave conditions. It's a huge improvement over the devices of the past. And it shows that the time has come when wave energy joins wind, solar and energy storage as part of a modern energy mix ”.
The King Island platform will remain in place at least until the end of 2022 and the company is now gearing up to go into production.
Take a look at the UniWave 200 test platform running in the video below.