Rapid Prototype Tidal Turbine Rotors

The Problem

The rapidly growing worldwide demand for renewable energy provides an unparalleled opportunity for development of new high performance technologies with efficiency and cost being the main driving factors. Tidal power features highly in this mix where methods are applied to convert the potential and kinetic energy stored in a tidal fluid flow into useable electric power. This high profile project was initialised to capitalise on this growing demand through the development of a new type of bi-directional turbine suitable for tidal power applications.

The Approach

The development of a new type of energy conversion device required technological innovation to increase the efficiency and performance of existing machines of this nature. In particular, the bi-directional nature of tidal flows inspired the use of twin ‘contra-rotating’ rotors that are able to accept tidal fluid flow from either direction. It was decided that the highly complicated shape of the rotors would benefit from newly emerging manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing. The time to print a single rotor was around 12 hours.

The Result

The rotors were successfully printed and the development of this device has progressed rapidly from feasibility stage to concept development whereby an initial prototype tidal power device has already been created and tested. In addition, international and national patent applications have been filed and the project has attracted significant attention from government funding and international investors.