Magnomatics, the Sheffield-based world leader in magnetic gear technology, is taking part in a pioneering marine turbine project to harness the power of sea currents as an alternative energy source.
The company is responsible for designing the turbine’s generator, using its ground-breaking pseudo direct drive (PDD®) technology to deliver high torque, low speed power for the machine. The turbine itself has been designed by Spanish offshore engineering experts Seaplace, with the aim of exploiting sea currents rather than tides to generate power.
A small-scale turbine demonstrator, designed for 600 NM and 6kW, with rotational speeds of up to 120ppm, was recently tested at a facility in Madrid, where it achieved around one third more efficiency than had been predicted. The full-scale turbine measures around 26 metres in diameter, with a propeller diameter of approximately 18 metres, with five blades to each propeller.
Using the kinetic energy of ocean currents as a means of generating energy is a reletavely young technology compared with developments in other fields of alternative power generation. However, it offers great potential as currents are more predictable than wind or solar power.
The scheme – Eurostars Project E10053-FTMC (floating tethered marine current) Turbine – is funded through the Eurostars Programme, which supports innovation.
Magnomatics’ PDD® is the ideal technology for the project, as it is highly efficient and reliable, requiring very low maintenance. It is significantly smaller and lighter than direct drive equivalents.
David Latimer, Magnomatics’ chief executive, said: “The possibilities presented by using ocean currents as an alternative energy source are far-reaching. The European Commission estimates that 0.1% of the energy content in ocean waves could be capable of supplying the entire world’s energy demand five times over. Currently, energy harnessed from currents meets just 0.02% of the EU’s energy requirements.
“The turbine is sturdy and easy to maintain, presenting a cost-efficient solution for regions with a sea depth of more than 60 metres, or variable seabed depths, making it an extremely exciting development.”