updated 6th October 05
"Bobber" will reap sea's
There's nothing new about harnessing
the sea's perpetual motion to provide
electrical power, the concept has
been floating around for over 30 years.
In May this year the Ocean Power
Delivery company secured the first
order for three of its Pelamis Wave
Energy Converters to be located 5km
off Portugal's northern coast. This
is the 80m Euro initial phase of the
world's first commercial wave farm
and will generate 2.25MW enough to
meet the average electricity demand
of 1,500 households.
Pelamis is based on a series of semi-submerged
tubes which, via a series of hydraulic
motors and generators, convert the
wave motion into electricity.
However, for the past two years the
UK's University of Manchester and
the University of Manchester Intellectual
Property Limited (UMIP) in partnership
with Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning,
has been developing an innovative
and patented new wave energy device
known as the 'Manchester Bobber'.
The project, which has received Carbon
Trust funding, was showcased at the
New & Renewable Energy Centre
(NaREC) in Blyth, Northumberland,
last month (September). The design,
development and testing of the device
has been carried out at the university
led by Professor Peter Stansby and
Dr Alan Williamson.
MOVEMENT TRANSMITS ENERGY
The Manchester Bobber's inventive
features utilise the rise and fall
(or 'bobbing') of the water surface.
This movement transmits energy, which
is then extracted by the mechanics
to drive a generator and produce electricity.
The vision is to have a series of
20-30 Bobbers, which are concrete
cylinders, working together on a special
platform sitting on the seabed, to
generate electricity. One concept
currently being explored is the use
of decommissioned offshore rigs as
platforms for the devices.
Professor Stansby, the university's
Professor of Hydrodynamics, says:
"Offshore wave energy represents
a substantial concentrated 'green'
energy source for an island state
like the UK.
"Energy from the sea may be
extracted in many ways. It is the
hydrodynamics of the float employed
by the Manchester Bobber that provides
the vital connection to generating
"These days we have a lot of
data on what we call 'wave climate'.
This tells us the height of waves
and what period of waves are actually
available through many years. So we
know precisely what the wave climate
is at a number of suitable locations
around the British Isles, and around
the world too."
Thousands of Bobber platforms would
be needed to meet the UK's entire
electricity demand. Professor Stansby
suggested it was more realistic to
look at providing 10%, 20% or even
30% of the demand.
One of the Bobber's unique features
is that vulnerable mechanical and
electrical components are housed in
a protected environment well above
sea level, which makes for ease of
Phase One of the project (testing
of 1/100th scale working model) was
successfully completed in January.
Phase Two, which is commencing now,
involves a 1/10th scale device that
has been constructed and will be tested
at NaREC over a two week period. Mowlem
plc and Royal Haskoning are also developing
and costing conceptual designs for
a full scale platform.
Phase Three will involve a full scale
prototype being constructed and tested
in parallel with detailed costings
and engineering design for the optimum
full scale concept from Phase 2.
The project team see the Manchester
Bobber as a key international development
at the forefront of the renewable
energy sector. Dr Frank Allison, Assistant
Project Manager from University of
Manchester Intellectual Property Ltd
(UMIP) said: "We are really excited
about the potential of this project
and can't wait to get the prototype
Manchester Bobber constructed and
tested. Also it will be an ideal opportunity
for people from the industry to come
and witness this principal milestone
and important achievement."
For more information www.manchesterbobber.com
or email email@example.com
Animated illustration by kind permission
of University of Manchester Intellectual
Property Ltd (UMIP). Copyright for
the Manchester Bobber flash animation
belongs to Royal Haskoning. Royal
Haskoning have kindly provided permission
to 4ecotips for the display of the
Manchester Bobber in this article
only. Please contact www.manchesterbobber.com
for further information.