Old trawler now harvests wave power instead of fish

The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front

The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front .

An old fishing trawler has been given new life in Norway, where it's now anchored offshore in the Stadthavet area and serving as a wave power plant. It's part of a project which ultimately calls for larger, purpose-built vessels to convert wave motion into electricity.

The project is being led by Norway's Kvernevik Engineering AS, although the concept for the fishing boat conversion was first developed by Geir Arne Solheim, founder of wave power company (and project partner) Havkraft AS.

The vessel incorporates an existing system known as the "fluctuating water column" concept. It has four vertical chambers installed in its bow, which the surrounding sea water can flow in and out of. Each chamber is capped by a connected turbine, located on the boat's deck.

As waves hit the vessel, they flow up into the chambers, causing the water level inside each one to rise. This in turn causes the air pressure in the top part of the chamber to increase, thus driving the turbine and generating electricity. Likewise, as the water flows back out of the chamber, the lowered air pressure sucks air in through the turbine, again causing it to spin.

The effects of both the inward and outward flow of water is accentuated by the boat itself, as it pitches up and down in the waves. A special anchoring system ensures the vessel is always facing into the oncoming waves.

According to computer models created by project partner Marintek, the fishing boat should be able to produce an estimated 320,000 kWh per year. Kvernevik next plans on installing a hydrogen production plant onboard, so that the electricity can be stored in the form of hydrogen gas suitable for use in fuel cell cars.

The project partners then hope to build a 5-chamber 1,000-kW plant, using either a larger existing boat or a purpose-built barge. Finally, they would like to see a semi-submersible vessel that features a 4-megawatt wave power plant, along with a 6-MW wind turbine on top.

Source: Gemini

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