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TWI and Albatern develop a viable wave energy converter

David Campbell, the Commercial Director of Albatern, explains how working with TWI has helped the company with the challenges of developing a commercially viable wave energy converter.

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David Campbell, the Commercial Director of Albatern, explains how working with TWI has helped the company with the challenges of developing a commercially viable wave energy converter.

Albatern is a Scottish SME, which has been working with TWI since 2015 with the aim of reducing the cost and increasing the availability of the electricity generated from their innovative wave energy converter arrays.

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Most recently, TWI worked closely with Albatern and Brunel Innovation Centre on a 17-month project called RISKMAN, which was co-funded by Innovate UK.

David explains how Albatern was able to call upon the network of specialist knowledge within TWI throughout the project including experts in corrosion, materials and asset life management.

WaveNET array in Mingary Bay
Squids being deployed off the Isle of Muck
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The RISKMAN project commenced with the assessment of the operating systems and risks of failure that would have an impact on operating reliability and generation availability.  There was then a specification phase of identifying sensors that could collect relevant data which were suitable for a harsh marine environment, and were commercially viable for ongoing use in normal operational systems.  Sensors were then procured and installed which enabled unprecedented levels of performance data to be recorded from the prototype wave energy converter by applying condition monitoring to critical components.

By undertaking in-depth analysis of these rich datasets, TWI was able to assist Albatern in visualising the data and subsequently drawing insights that could improve understanding of the wave energy converter’s performance characteristics. The aim was to identify the normal envelope of operational data across the full spectrum of wave conditions so that a deviation from this envelope could be identified and enable preventative maintenance to be carried out before component or systems failure occurred.  This recognises that failures are most likely to be encountered when the system is stressed in extreme weather conditions when access will not be possible and more availability of generation is lost.  As a result, Albatern can now take the next step towards commercialisation.

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Longer term, the working relationship between TWI and Albatern is set to go from strength to strength as further advancements are made in the development of wave energy converters to make them a competitive source of renewable energy.

The collaboration between TWI and Albatern demonstrates TWI’s capability to work with a variety of companies across technology readiness levels, and also their reach from multi-nationals to innovative SMEs tackling complex engineering challenges.

All photos supplied courtesy of Albatern Ltd.

Avatar David Campbell Commercial Director

'What we've come to realise in working with TWI is the breadth of knowledge and expertise within the organisation'. 

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