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Converting Waves to Electricity

I love to hear about alternative power systems that use novel technologies or techniques to improve on existing methods of generation. I think BioPower Systems is one of those companies that has a really good idea, that needs to be heard. The technologies are pretty “simple, as they say, inspired by 3.8 Billion years of evolutionary optimisation.

BioPower Systems – Biologically Inspired Ocean Power Systems:

img_biowave.jpgBioPower Systems Pty. Ltd. is commercialising award-winning bio-mimetic ocean energy conversion technologies. We have adopted nature’s mechanisms for survival and energy conversion in the marine environment and have applied these in the development of our proprietary wave and tidal energy systems.

Our technologies inherit benefits developed during 3.8 Billion years of evolutionary optimisation in nature’s ocean laboratory.The resulting systems move and sway in tune with the forces of the ocean, and naturally streamline when extreme conditions prevail. This leads to low design thresholds and associated low costs.

The inherently simple bioWAVE” and bioSTREAM” devices are designed to supply utility-scale grid-connected renewable energy using lightweight modular systems. These systems will reside beneath the ocean surface, out of view, and in harmony with the living creatures that inspired their design.

The BioWave system mimics seaweed or kelp swaying in the current. As the wave action sways the fins back and forth, power is generated. In a large storm event, the fins lay flat on the seabed, protecting them from damage. As such, the base design is much smaller than traditional rigid wave power generators that remain exposed during storms. The unit also continually self-orientates to optimise power generation.

Generation capacities of 500, 1000 and 2000 kW are being developed. For more information on this technology, check out BioPower’s website.

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Wave and tidal power generation have not had the R&D funding of other alternative power sources such as wind and solar, and are likely to always be a smaller portion of the available power generation. However, until wind and solar, wave and tidal patterns would indicate that there is always some energy available to be extracted at a given location.

These designs would be appealing to smaller coastal communities looking for more self reliance away from a major grid. Some communities would be in a position to sell electricity generated back into the grid if multiple units were installed. True energy sustainability is best achieved through diversification of sources, when coupled with wind, solar and other methods of electricity generation, this technology could supply a significant base load supply.


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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.