Barras, Colin. New Scientist. "Sea 'snake' generates electricity with every wave." May 7, 2009.
Friday, May 8, 2009
A new method of harnessing wave energy was described in a recent New Scientist article. The anaconda, a rubber snake filled with freshwater, sealed at both ends, and tethered at one end to the ocean floor, is currently undergoing wave tank testing in preparation for full-scale trials. As waves push along the length of the snake, they exert pressure that is transmitted by the water inside which "forces anaconda's walls to expand outwards into the wave troughs where they are under less pressure, forming 'bulge waves' that travel along the anaconda's length." The bulge waves force a turbine to spin which generates electricity. One huge benefit of the anaconda is its simplicity - except for the turbine, no moving parts are required and only one tether to the ocean floor is needed. This minimizes construction and maintenance costs, which are typical disadvantages of wave harnessing devices. Fifty anacondas could generate enough electricity for 50,000 homes. I didn't realize that waves are much more energy dense than wind. Only one commercial wave farm is currently in operation; hopefully anacondas will spurn more development in this area.