Photo: Wavepiston’s team testing its PTO technology (Courtesy of Wavepiston)

Wavepiston starts accelerated wave energy tech testing

Danish wave energy company Wavepiston has started accelerated tests of its technology at Technical University of Denmark’s (DTU) test facility as part of the EU-backed VALID project.

Wavepiston’s team testing its PTO technology (Courtesy of Wavepiston)
Wavepiston’s team testing its PTO technology (Courtesy of Wavepiston)

In October 2022, Wavepiston kicked off the campaign for accelerated tests, which will enable the company to speed up the number of iterations of its wave energy system and shorten the necessary testing time prior to an offshore installation, ultimately reducing the risk of failure.

Wavepiston is testing its power take-off (PTO) system, which is based on hydraulic pumps that send raw, pressurized seawater to a land-based turbine.

The seals of these pumps are highly loaded due to both the aggressive environment and the fact that the rams operate at approximately 60 bars, and according to the company, understanding and reducing wear on these seals is key to its success.

The company’s team has created the first version of a numerical model that simulates the movement and pressure variations in the hydraulic pumps, and designed a physical platform for testing hydraulic pumps at realistic speeds and pressures.

The platform will feed performance data into the numerical model, including pressure, leak volume and friction, which is expected to significantly shorten time-to-market while also applying more rigorous demands on performance and reliability, resulting in the creation of a better product in less time and for less money, Wavepiston expects.

Commenting on the campaign, Martin von Bülow, chief specialist at Wavepiston, said: “The test that we are running is crucial for developing the Wavepiston’s technology. There are so many variables to the installation. If we observe and test them in a controlled environment, we will be much better prepared for putting our installation in the ocean with more unpredictable factors.

“Actually, I am very positively surprised how smoothly the system runs. When starting such a new venture, you never fully know what to expect. So far, we haven’t had any major issues, which tells us that we designed the system in the right way.”

Von Bülow added that during the test period, Wavepiston’s team will evaluate all elements of the device to determine when and under which conditions it works the best, which is expected to make the company’s technology much more effective and easier to operate in the future.

The tests are being conducted as part of the EU-backed €5 million VALID (Verification through Accelerated Testing Leading to Improved Wave Energy Design) project, whose goal is to create a hybrid testing facility that encompasses several wave energy technologies as test cases, with the final aim of delivering a novel test rig configuration methodology for accelerating wave energy technological development.

This will be achieved through one open and integrated platform for testing of critical components and subsystems, that will include novel test procedures beyond current testing practices, and will be based on hybrid testing methods, combining virtual and physical tests rigs.

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