Scotland’s oceans to be created in lab

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In a bid to harness ocean’s energy researchers at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney and FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility at The University of Edinburgh have joined hands to recreated scaled versions of Scotland’s oceans in the laboratory.

With more than a decade of experience, the two researcher organisations have kicked off an ambitious programme to use real-life ocean data from EMEC to replicate Orkney’s seas in the FloWave tank.

Using the real-life data and state of the art technologies, researchers intend to develop technologies that can be tested in labs thereby eliminating the hefty research costs as well as the risks involved with real-life testing in oceans. Using the knowledge they have gained over the last decade, researchers intend to replicate real ocean conditions in the laboratory and thereby pave way for refined prototypes and validations well before the technology is deployed in oceans.

The reason researchers have decided to Scotland’s oceans for their research is that they are much more complex than just plain simple waves or tidal flows. Scotland’s oceans are much more complex and usually combine both.

“At FloWave our unique facility gives us the ability to create both waves and tidal currents at the same time,” says FloWave Chief Executive Officer Stuart Brown.

For the project, EMEC is extending the years of known how and data it has collected and analysed. The data by EMECs has been generated by ‘Waverider’ buoys, radar and ADCPs (acoustic Doppler current profilers). FloWave will be developing accurate models of complex sea states and further the work needed to creates oceans in a lab.

This challenging work is being led by research engineer Sam Draycott, now in the third year of a four year industrial doctorate in offshore renewable energy at FloWave.

Through the oceans recreated in albs, researchers will be able to test out the basic idea of new technologies at each stage of the development and well before they are deployed into oceans.

“Replicating EMEC’s sea conditions at FloWave will help developers ensure their devices are ready for Orkney’s powerful waves and tides, and provide a cost-effective route to the later stages of real-world testing and eventual commercialisation”, says Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager for industry body Scottish Renewable.