University of Edinburgh opens new marine and hydrokinetics testing facility

Rudd FloWave MHK Tank

Scottish Member of Parliament Amber Rudd helped officials from the University of Edinburgh officially open the institute's FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility earlier this week.

The facility, operated by a University of Edinburgh subsidiary called FloWave TT Ltd., is a US$16 million facility intended to drive academic research in marine and hydrokinetics (MHK) research.

"Wave and tidal energy has an important part to play in our low-carbon energy mix, and the U.K. is already at the forefront of research and development in this innovative sector," Rudd said. "Testing devices in realistic ocean conditions is essential for driving this industry forward to commercial success."

The US$16 million facility features a 25-meter-across tank capable of simulating scaled equivalents of waves up to 28-meters-high and currents up to 14 knots. The tank will be used to recreate waves and currents from coastlines around the world, with an emphasis on expediting the research process compared to open-water tests.

"Its circular design means waves have no reflections and both waves and currents can come from multiple directions, to accurately mimic the real ocean environment," FloWave CEO Stuart Brown said. "This means researchers and industrial partners can use the facility to develop and refine prototype devices before building and testing them full-scale for deployment in near-identical conditions at sea."

The project was funded by the university, in conjunction with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

"We believe FloWave will help accelerate learning, improve performance and reduce costs for developers, and we expect FloWave will be used to test wave and tidal energy converters, floating offshore wind platforms, and specialist vessels to install and maintain offshore projects," Brown said. "If the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is the lab in the ocean, then FloWave is the ocean in the lab."

The university has shown a strong interest in the marine and hydrokinetics (MHK) sector in recent years -- most recently in helping Atlantis Resources Ltd. develop its AR1500 tidal energy units.

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