Maritime News

Marine-i Helps Develop Pioneering Hydroelectric Generator for Yachts

Support from Marine-i is helping Openarc Marine develop a completely new approach to on-board generators for use when cruising under sail. This hydroelectric technology would have worldwide applications and help to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation at sea.

Part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Marine-i is designed to help the marine technology sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly grow through harnessing the full potential of research and innovation.

Based in Cornwall UK, Openarc Marine is focused on developing smart marine energy systems. They develop technologies which reduce and eliminate dependence on diesel and petrol fuelled electric generators, control energy collection and consumption, and harvest free energy from the sea.

Openarc Marine set out to overcome a number of key drawbacks with existing technologies. Conventional systems couple the turbine directly to the generator, making them drag sensitive and limited in range and output. The Openarc system has an intelligent coupling system able to control drag and open up a wider range of operation with higher energy yields.

Openarc Marine Director, Jim Shields, explains: “Our innovative system introduces a completely novel approach to hydro generation, where optimisation of energy conversion efficiency has been reduced in favour of controllability. This has then been augmented by the use of a highly sophisticated control mechanism. This means that the new system can generate electricity at very low speeds, when other generators cannot. Because the amount of drag can be controlled, the user can choose to sacrifice speed to generate more electricity if they wish. This degree of control makes our product unique in the marketplace, creating a significant step forward for our industry.”

Openarc Marine engaged with Marine-i to get support in developing an operational prototype of the new system, including the build of a full size turbine. Marine-i worked with Openarc Marine to develop a programme of activity covering design review, systems design and verification, and prototype testing and analysis.

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says: “This is a really exciting innovation from Openarc Marine, which will have global applications in the leisure sailing industry. This project has the potential to make Openarc Marine a world leader with its pioneering approach to hydroelectric generation.”

Openarc Marine Director, Mark Basham, adds: “Support from Marine-i has given us the opportunity to bring this new technology to market at a much faster rate than would otherwise be possible. We are now conducting prototype development, having proven the concept through pilot testing. We will be carrying out sea trials off Falmouth in Spring 2022 and the product is expected to be launched in 2023.”

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