C-Cell PoC - A step change wave energy device for providing efficient and affordable marine renewable energy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Architecture and Civil Engineering


Zyba has invented a new wave energy paddle ("CCell") that extracts energy from ocean waves. The innovative curved compound shape of CCell makes for a strong yet light structure, with superb wave energy absorption properties. In 1/4 scale laboratory tests it extracts 2-3x more energy than comparable alternatives tested at the same time.

This project aims to demonstrate at a half scale this step change in performance, while optimising the device design and control to maximize power output. Additionally, it will link a small scale wave paddle device with reverse osmosis desalination equipment to allow clean water to be produced from sea water. This will demonstrate that it is feasible to use the device in this manner, ensuring it is economically viable, and at the same time it provides a low carbon technology of direct benefit to developing countries. The objective is to target a first market with a 20kW unit that is sufficient to supply 1000 people with 100 litres per day.

This project will develop numerical tools to improve our understanding of the interactions between the waves and device structure through a detailed program of numerical and laboratory studies. These tools will be used to optimise the device for a range of conditions, culminating in the design of an integrated system for desalinating sea water using reverse osmosis ("RO"). A shortage of fresh water is a global problem, with a growing market for RO equipment on arid island communities.

The project includes four UK SMEs and two universities, with results to be disseminated in academic papers and conferences. If successful it will lead to sea trials.

Planned Impact

We estimate that the manufacture and installation of a 20kW CCell RO unit to supply 1000 people will create less than 10 tons of CO2. By comparison the equivalent power from a diesel generator (typical of Pacific and Caribbean islands) will produce ~62 tons of CO2 per year i.e, CCell will be carbon neutral within 2-3 months of installation.

Fresh water is essential for an economy, with growth in many countries hampered by a lack of fresh water. Fresh water also reduces local food cost, improved health and promotes regional stability. Supports and promotes cutting edge marine energy research at Universities of Bath and Plymouth. Results from this work will also spill over into supporting future undergraduate and PhD research across the UK.

The success of this project will radically alter wave paddle design, fundamentally changing the economic viability of these devices across the industry, and further establish the UK as leader in marine renewables.


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Description The aim was to obtain a better understanding of Wave Energy Converter (WEC) performance under laboratory experimental conditions. It is well known that tuning of the power takeoff mechanism (PTO) is one of the most significant factors in the overall performance of a WEC. Poor tuning can result in low power output, or excessive stress on components leading to premature failure. It is very difficult to simulate both realistic hydrodynamics and performance of complex PTO mechanisms in a unified modelling environment, and it is prohibitively expensive to build and test complete systems. An alternative approach is to connect a real WEC to a model-in-the-loop force control system, which can be configured to provide resistive forces mimicking a real PTO. In this way a range of PTO characteristics and control shemes can be rapidly tested, enabling both evaluation of WEC performance and optimal design of a real PTO. A system has been designed for use with a reciprocating paddle WEC. It is capable of generating up to 20kN force at the WEC, and any PTO characteristic can be programmed, providing the model can be executed within a computional step. Experimental results from tests conducted at the Plymouth wave tank have been used to determine the performance of the CCell wave energy converter and to investigate optimal control strategies to enhance power generation. The predicted four-fold efficiency improvement over existing designs was demonstrated.
Exploitation Route The general approach of Hardware-in-the-loop testing could be used to improve the development process for other wave energy device developers. The findings are being extended already under IUK/EPSRC grant EP/N508445/1.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description This research represented a first attempt to characterise the combined performance of the novel CCell wave Energy converter and its power take-off system. It also enabled us to identify optimal parameters for power capture and is informing the design of the next generation device. The real impact of this initial work was to establish CCell as a viable concept, and new impact is emerging as a result, but is very much in an embryonic state. The significant non-academic impact is likely to come from EP/N508445/1, an award that was no doubt successful because of the results achieved under this award. Emerging impact includes forthcoming sea trials of CCell as a means to regenerate coral reefs through electrolysis. Further impact could be the continuing growth of Zyba Renewables Ltd - the developer of CCell, and increasing employment of both full time staff and internships. Additionally there have been educational impacts as the findings are disseminated and developed by undergraduate students at the University of Bath as research and design projects. To date this has consisted of three teams of six engineering design students, 10 final year research projects and four external integrated projects (secondments).
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

Description Marine Power Systems 
Organisation Marine Power Systems Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Following successful delivery of EPSRC funded project EP/L505821/1, we were approached by Marine Power Systems to design, build and deliver a power take-off and data capture system for a lab-scale prototype of their wave energy converter. This work was undertaken under a consultancy basis and was successfully delivered. Following from this we have submitted a joint proposal to the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 3 and are collaborating on a current PhD research project at the University of Bath.
Collaborator Contribution Marine Power Systems and University of Bath have submitted a joint proposal to the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 3. Marine Power Systems are sharing expertise and data from numerical and experimental modelling to assist with a current PhD project in this area.
Impact Design, build and deliver a power take-off and data capture system for a lab-scale prototype of the MPS wave energy converter, conducted as a consultancy project. Submission of a joint proposal to the Innovate UK Energy Catalyst Round 3. Collaboration for a PhD project on numerical modelling of Wave Energy Converters.
Start Year 2014
Description Marine Renewable Energy Conference (PRIMaRE) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation and poster display to a mixed Academic and Industrial audience. The purpose was to disseminate research findings and discuss future direction and projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.primare.org/
Description University of Bath Design and Project Exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This Exhibition presents undergraduate project work to the local academic audience across the University of Bath and to invited external Industrial delegates. Typically over 400 delegates are present. Projects are represented by posters and exhibition stands, with opportunity for discussion across a whole day of activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL https://wiki.bath.ac.uk/display/MechEngDesignExhibition/Home