Indian scientists take step towards using ocean's power

The demand for common marine buoys with sensors that measure meteorological data, monitor tsunami or submarines and help navigate the maritime traffic is on the rise.The demand for common marine buoys with sensors that measure meteorological data, monitor tsunami or submarines and help navigate the maritime traffic is on the rise.

Indian scientists have taken a baby step to harness the enormous power of the ocean as they successfully designed, built and operated a small floating platform that runs on ocean energy.

Designed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras the small-sized wave-powered marine buoy generated an electrical output of 12 Watts during trials.

Buoyed by the success, the team has begun working on a full-scale ocean surveillance buoy that will be powered by 150 Watt of electricity generated out of the ocean. Their aim is to make the floating device (with moorings attached to the sea bed) self-sufficient.

“The laboratory version has a diameter of 60 cm and a height of 60 cm whereas the full-scale one will have a diameter of two mt and a height of 1.5-2 mt. In the smaller version the spar (an essential component, which is actually a long rod passing through the buoy) is 2 mt long but in the bigger version, the spar will be 10 mt long,” Abdus Samad, an IIT scientist from the department of ocean engineering and leader of the team told DH.

The demand for common marine buoys with sensors that measure meteorological data, monitor tsunami or submarines and help navigate the maritime traffic is on the rise.

Since such instruments are used continuously, they require power supply round-the-clock. Battery life limits the operational duration of most marine buoys, making ocean energy a feasible option for recharging these devices.

The IIT design, according to Samad, is compact, cost-effective, and easier to manufacture and maintain compared to the existing wave-powered navigational buoys.

When the full scale would be ready, the team intends to try it at a site near the Ennore port at a depth of 10 mt. “The implementation challenge would be to anchor it properly. We will also hire local fishermen as guards so that the sensors are not stolen,” he said.

Incidentally, last week, the Centre declared ocean energy as renewable energy bringing it at par with solar and wind energy, making energy this generated eligible for meeting non-solar power renewable purchase obligations. 

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