EEL Energy performs tidal membrane try-outs in Brest

French tidal energy developer EEL Energy has conducted trials on its scaled tidal energy prototype in the port of Brest in France.

The device, based on undulating membrane concept, was put under its first real sea trials early in November 2017.

EEL Energy hired local marine services provider Iroise Mer which provided its TSM Penzer vessel to perform towing trials of the 1:6 scale device.

The aim of the trials was to validate the performance of EEL Energy’s tidal converter in real sea conditions.

In the first month of testing, the scaled tidal energy converter reached power peaks of 4kW/h, the Managing Director of EEL Energy, Franck Sylvain told Radio France International.

To remind, the prototype operating at reduced output of 10kW at the French research institute Ifremer managed to reach an average power production of 2kW at the current velocity of 1.5m/s back in June 2017.

“These tests, on a fully instrumented membrane, made it possible to generate a very large volume of data. The sensors and data have enabled the development and testing of a power measurement protocol, submitted for certification to Bureau Veritas. During four weeks, our tests also made it possible to test and validate the mechanical strength of our solution,” EEL Energy said in a statement.

EEL tidal energy converter consists of a membrane that optimizes energy transfer by coupling fluid flow with an undulating structure. The membrane undulates under moving fluid pressure, and this periodic motion is transformed into electricity by an electromechanical system.

The energy is converted along the whole length of the rubber membrane surface.

EEL Energy is a French-based company developing an undulating membrane inspired by biomimicry, or in this case by fish swimming, to generate electricity from marine or river currents.

The project, supported by BPI France, is conducted in partnership with Hutchinson, Ifremer and Dassault Systems.