Flexible Responsive Systems in Wave Energy: FlexWave

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Wave energy convertors (WECs) offer opportunities for niche (powering aquaculture and offshore stations) and grid-scale applications. However, disruptive innovation is essential to unlock the potential of wave energy, achieve step change reduction in cost of energy, and prove competitiveness against other renewable energy options. Here we investigate the opportunity to transform the development of WEC systems by utilising intelligent design concepts that exploit novel use of deformable materials. WECs based on deformable materials may offer improved performance, survivability, reliability, and reduced cost compared with steel or concrete alternatives for the following reasons:

1. To achieve a given resonant frequency, a flexible fabric device can be smaller and lighter.

2. Hydrodynamic characteristics of such a device can be modified by controlling its internal fluid pressure, enabling it to be tuned to suit incident wave conditions. These adjustments can be made by an on-board intelligent responsive system.

3. Controlled non-linear changes of geometry would enable a deformable fabric structure to accommodate or shed high loads without reaching critical stress concentrations, improving survivability and reducing installation and lifetime costs.

4. Flexibility opens up the possibility to use a range of PTOs, such as novel distributed embedded energy converters (DEECs) utilising distributed bellows action, electro active polymers, electric double layer capacitors or micro-hydraulic displacement machines.

5. A lightweight flexible structure with largely elastic polymer construction is unlikely to cause collision damage, and so is therefore a low risk option for niche applications, such as co-location with offshore wind devices.

The performance of flexible responsive systems in wave energy, their optimisation in operating conditions, and their ability to survive storm waves, will be assessed through a programme of wave basin experiments and numerical modelling of different flexible WEC concepts. Survivability is a critical hurdle for all WEC concepts as by their nature they need to respond in energetic sea states while avoiding critical stresses in extreme seas. For a flexible responsive structure, this means avoiding concentration of stress (naturally avoided by collapse/folding) or of strain (avoided by use of a distributed PTO during operational conditions).

Numerical models will be developed that account for complex interactions between wave action, deforming membrane structure, and internal fluid. The models will be informed, calibrated, and validated using results from materials testing and fundamental hydro-elastic experiments. Advantages and disadvantages of rubber-based, polyurethane and other reinforced polymer materials will be assessed in terms of manufacturing cost, join, bonding, and fatigue performance in the marine environment. The research will draw on origami theory and the technology of deployable structures to avoid problems with wrinkling, folding, or aneurysm formation, and an entirely new design may emerge through this innovative approach. We aim to demonstrate a pathway to cost reduction for flexible fabric WECs optimising for performance, structural design and manufacture for both utility scale and niche applications.

Publications

10 25 50

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Michele S (2023) Floating hydroelastic circular plate in regular and irregular waves in European Journal of Mechanics - B/Fluids

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Wang X (2023) Graphene oxide reinforced room-temperature-vulcanising elastomers for flexible wave energy converters in Proceedings of the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference

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Puzhukkil K (2023) Hydro-elastic interaction of polymer materials with regular waves in Proceedings of the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference

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Yang J (2023) Origami-adapted clam design for wave energy conversion in Proceedings of the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference

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Xinyu Wang (2022) Conference poster

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Puzhukkil K (2022) Conference poster

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Puzhukkil K (2022) Conference poster

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Yang J (2022) Conference poster

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Yang J (2022) Conference poster

 
Description Use of origami theory to optimise design of deformable structures in wave energy conversion; understanding of the material properties for materials used in membrane structures and their performance in the marine environment and under cyclic loading; understanding of hydrodynamics of flexible membrane structures under water waves.
Exploitation Route 3 Patent applications pending.
Sectors Energy

Manufacturing

including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Physical modelling data obtained through the Flexible Responsive Systems in Wave Energy (FlexWave) project [EP/V040367/1] has been utilised within CCP-WSI Blind Test Series 4, entitled 'Focused wave interactions with a submerged flexible membrane'. This blind test consists of three cases involving a submerged flexible membrane subject to a focused wave event. In addition to these focused wave cases, there are additional cases to enable characterisation of the structural properties and the hydrodynamic conditions. These characterisation cases include: empty tank tests, i.e. generation and propagation of the focused wave events in isolation, without the structure present, and; static equilibrium tests, i.e. measurement of the membrane position/shape in equilibrium under the action of gravity (both submerged and subaerial). CCP-WSI Blind Test Series 4 was run in conjunction with the ISOPE 2023 conference in Ottawa, Canada. Three contributions were made to the technical program, with two papers published in the conference proceedings. The physical data will also be made publicly available for future benchmarking of numerical models as 'CCP-WSI Test Case 014' and forms part of CCP-WSI Comparative Study 2.
First Year Of Impact 2023
Sector Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

 
Description BP Exploration Operating Company Limited 
Organisation BP (British Petroleum)
Department BP Exploration Operating Company Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution research discussions
Collaborator Contribution research discussions
Impact research workshop
Start Year 2021
 
Description Griffon Hoverwork Ltd 
Organisation Griffon Hoverwork
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Advisory Board Member and contributions to the research
Collaborator Contribution provides expertise and advise in engineering of flexible membrane materials. Contributing to scale model construction, design and build.
Impact Conference presentations and research seminars
Start Year 2022
 
Description Independent John Phillips 
Organisation Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Department Philips
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution research discussions
Collaborator Contribution research discussions
Impact research workshops
Start Year 2021
 
Description NREL (Nat Renewable Energy Laboratory) 
Organisation U.S. Department of Energy
Department National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution collaboration on flexible wave energy concepts
Collaborator Contribution Dr Jochem Weber and his team contributing to discussions on DEEC tec systems for wave energy
Impact research presentations and meetings
Start Year 2021
 
Description Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult 
Organisation Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution research in flexible wave energy systems
Collaborator Contribution discussion and insight
Impact research workshops
Start Year 2021
 
Description Single Buoy Moorings Inc. 
Organisation Single Buoy Mooring Inc
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution research discussions
Collaborator Contribution research discussions
Impact research workshop
Start Year 2021
 
Description Wave Energy Scotland 
Organisation Wave Energy Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution research discussions
Collaborator Contribution research discussions
Impact research workshop
Start Year 2021
 
Description All Energy 2023 - SEC Glasgow 
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 Exhibition stand at the All Energy 2023 conference and exhibition
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://supergen-ore.net/events/all-energy-exhibition-and-conference-2024
 
Description Attendance at BASM-WEC Workshop at the University of Strathclyde 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A workshop for the wave energy project BASM-WEC at the University of Strathclyde
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Devon County Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exhibition stand at the Devon County Show, providing information to the general public on ORE technology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://supergen-ore.net/events/the-devon-county-show
 
Description EWTEC Conference Side-event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Side-event workshop on Wave Energy held at the EWTEC Conference in Plymouth UK September 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Flexwave Kick-off meeting 
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 Flexwave Project Kick-off meeting and workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Flexwave Project Workshop Oxford 
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 Project workshop; presentations from project team and external partners
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Flexwave Workshop March 2023 
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 Project Workshop with project partners from industry, academia and government bodies in UK and US
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description PRIMaRE Conference 2023 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of a poster at the PRIMaRE conference, 27-28 Jul., Bath, U.K.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Project Meeting Plymouth May 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project Meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Supergen Assembly Wave Energy Workshop Jan 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Supergen Assembly Wave Energy Workshop Jan 2022
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022