Ocean current turbine demo scores more

A small-scale tidal current turbine demonstrator – being developed by Spanish Seaplace and UK’s Magnomatics – has achieved one third more efficiency during testing than had been previously predicted.

FTMC Turbine under tests at the CEHIPAR basin in Madrid, Spain (Photo: Seaplace)

A 6kW turbine demonstrator, with rotational speeds of up to 120 ppm, was recently tested at a facility in Madrid, where it achieved better results than anticipated, the developers said.

The project is looking to harness the power of sea currents as an alternative energy source by designing a turbine with pseudo direct drive (PDD) technology to deliver high torque, low speed power for the machine.

The design of the device being developed by the companies – a floating tension-tethered and self-steerable marine-current (FTMC) turbine – is said to allow the exploitation of marine currents in areas deeper than 60 meters, or in areas with irregular seabed where fixed devices are too expensive to deploy.

The FTMC turbine put through its paces in a test basin (Photo: Seaplace)

The Sheffield-based company developing magnetic gear technology Mangomatics was in charge of the PDD generator design, while the turbine itself was designed by the Spanish offshore engineering experts from Seaplace.

Using kinetic energy of ocean currents as a means of generating power is a relatively young technology compared with developments in other fields of alternative power generation, according to Magnomatics.

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 32-month long project kicked off on April 1, 2016 – under the Eurostars Program, aimed at market-oriented transnational projects.

The full-scale turbine will measure around 26 meters in diameter, with a propeller diameter of approximately 18 meters, with five blades to each propeller, according to Magnomatics.