Finavera's 35-ton buoys rise above the water about 6 feet but extend beneath the surface some 60 feet, where a piston encased in an underwater steel cylinder rises and falls with the waves and pushes pressurized seawater through rubber hoses. The water is then pumped into a turbine inside the buoy which spins to create power. Finavera's first ocean test last year ended in disaster when its $2 million buoy deployed off Oregon's coast sunk to the sea floor.
AP - Just 15 miles off Florida's coast, the world's most powerful sustained ocean current — the mighty Gulf Stream — rushes by at nearly 8.5 billion gallons per second. And it never stops.
To scientists, it represents a tantalizing possibility: a new, plentiful and uninterrupted source of clean energy.
"We can produce power 24/7," said Frederick Driscoll, director of the university's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. Using a $5 million research grant from the state, the university is working to develop the technology in hopes that big energy and engineering companies will eventually build huge underwater arrays of turbines.
The Gulf Stream is about 30 miles wide and shifts only slightly in its course, passing closer to Florida than to any other major land mass. "It's the best location in the world to harness ocean current power," Driscoll said.
Roger Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute said an analysis by his organization found that wave- and tide-generated energy could supply only about 6.5 percent of today's electricity needs.
from on February 14, 2008, 4:26pm