VIDEO: Latest wave energy machine put through its paces in Plymouth
THE state-of-the-art ocean tank at Plymouth University is already making waves in the design of renewable energy machines.
This week the £19million Marine Building at North Cross played host to its fourth wave energy experiment in the six months since it opened.
Plymouth-based company Sea Wave Energy Ltd spent two days testing a prototype of a device it hopes will not only generate electricity from waves but work as a cheap desalination plant for areas where fresh water is scarce.
Dr Stuart Stripling, scientific manager at the Coastal Ocean and Sediment Transport (COaST) laboratories in the Marine Building, said another two organisations were expected to test their devices in Plymouth this Spring.
"This facility is world-leading in its ability to deal with the development of marine renewables," Dr Stripling said.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh formally opened the building last October.
The device tested yesterday in the 35-metre ocean wave basin is dubbed the Waveline Magnet, and was designed by Adamos Zakheos.
A smaller version has already been tested in the sea in Cyprus, monitored by scientists from Exeter University.
Company director Nick Strachan said they had invited Plymouth University students to watch yesterday's tests. He said they had put up a 300 Euro prize for the best explanation of the physics of the device from the students.
The university is using the COaST laboratories to train scientists who will build the next generation of marine energy devices as part of an MSc programme.
Students carry out their own experiments in the laboratories' three wave tanks.
The COaST Laboratories are part of the South West Marine Energy Park, created by the Government last year.
Equipment is tested in the Plymouth tanks under controlled but dynamic conditions, before going into open water in Falmouth Bay.
The ultimate test comes at Wave Hub, the electrical hub on the seabed ten miles off the north coast of Cornwall.
Dr Stripling would not comment on the efficacy of Mr Zakheos's Waveline Magnet, but said there was a demand not only for energy-generating devices but for desalination.
"There is a lot of global tourism in places that don't have infrastructure like fresh water supplies. They could benefit."