Harnessing Tidal Energy More Efficiently Than Ever Before

The new design of tidal turbine. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Oxford)

A new company, Kepler Energy Limited, has been formed to develop a tidal turbine which has the potential to harness tidal energy more efficiently and cheaply, using a device which is simpler, more robust and more scaleable than current designs.

The turbine is the result of research in Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science by Professor Guy Houlsby, Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr Malcolm McCulloch, head of the electrical power group, and Professor Martin Oldfield, Emeritus Professor of the thermofluids laboratory.

Kepler Energy Limited will design, test and develop a horizontal axis water turbine intended to intersect the largest possible area of current. The rotor is cylindrical and rolls around its axis, thereby catching the current. The researchers received £50,000 in funding from the Oxford University Challenge Seed fund, managed by Isis Innovation, to build a 0.5 metre diameter prototype demonstrating the benefits of the design. A full-scale device would measure up to 10 metres in diameter, and a series of turbines can be chained together across a tidal channel.

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