Innovation That Matters

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Harnessing wave power: a new era for greener ships

Mobility & Transport

A design for generating energy from the movement of ships in the water could generate energy for use on board, reducing emissions

Spotted: Maritime shipping is essential for trade, but it is also responsible for around three per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. There is, therefore, increasing pressure on the maritime industry to reduce its carbon footprint. New work by a team of researchers at the Shanghai Ship and Shipping Institute, a subsidiary of maritime leader COSCO Shipping, could make this easier by enabling ships to generate clean energy on-board.

The researchers have proposed using ‘heaving oscillators’ to draw power from the movements of the ship as it travels through the sea, which would turn ships into mobile wave energy generators. The energy produced could be used to power the ship, with excess energy stored in batteries.

The system consists of a frame with an oscillator attached that moves up and down slide rods as the ship moves from side to side. The motion of the oscillator would pump oil through a hydraulic power take-off device to generate energy, transferring mechanical energy from the motion of the oscillator into electrical energy.

Photo source Shanghai Ship and Shipping Research Institute

The team concluded that, under ideal wave conditions, the device could capture up to 91 per cent of the energy available. The researchers also point out that the concept could be extended to other maritime structures, such as offshore platforms and buoys. The concept is still in the early stages and the team plans further feasibility tests, including in-laboratory experiments using scaled-down ship models in wave tanks.

Springwise has spotted a number of other emissions-mitigation innovations proposed for shipping, including using ships to break up atmospheric methane and a zero-emission cruise ship.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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