|Schematic of the Proteus tidal power device. Click to enlarge.|
The Neptune Proteus Tidal Power Pontoon consists of a 4m x 4m vertical axis Savonius (Binks, Michell or Crossflow) turbine mounted in a patent pending symmetrical accelerator duct beneath a standardized 8m x 13.02m steel barge for estuarine sites.
|Mean spring tidal power density in the UK. Click to enlarge.|
The vertical axle connects simply to the gearbox and generator/alternator on the top of the pontoon with associated valves and supply controls. The power pontoon is easily moored in the free stream, thus minimizing environmental impact and operates equally efficiently for both flood and ebb currents. Theoretical work and 1/100th scale laboratory modelling suggests an efficiency of 60-80%.
Manufacturing costs of the device are minimal, which means that for the first time ever, tidal electricity can be generated at commercially competitive prices. Once manufactured, ten Proteus devices could potentially provide 15% of Hull City Council’s energy requirements.
The Proteus devices have been tested in the University’s research facility at The Deep, Hull’s futuristic submarium. The device generates power by using computer-controlled shutters that direct tidal currents onto a large multi-paddled water turbine. The workings of the device have been developed through honing mathematical applications and using the results to conduct practical experiments.
The next step is to create a full-size prototype that would be positioned in the Humber.
The Proteus device has now been patented by the Neptune Group, who are raising funds for the first full-scale demonstrator version. This will be project-managed by the University’s Environmental Technology Centre for Industrial Collaboration (ETCIC), and is due to be tested in the Humber in 2008.