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Chemical Engineering MagazineTesting tide power
A counter-rotating propeller technology that is being developed to harness…
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Testing tide power

By Tetsuo Satoh |

A counter-rotating propeller technology that is being developed to harness the energy from tidal currents has been field tested off the coast of Nagasaki Bay, near Iwo Jima, Japan. The prototype, which is one seventh the size of a commercial unit, has a rated power of 500 kW and was shown to have a 43.1% power generation efficiency for a water flowrate of 4 m/s, which exceeded the estimates (42%) based on the design. The device was developed by a Japanese industry-academia-government collaboration, led by Kyowa Engineering Consultants Co. (Tokyo) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; Kawasaki; www.nedo.go.jp), with partners EIM Electric Co., Maeda Corp. Kyushu Institute of Technology and Waseda University. The unit has two 5-m-dia. propellers that rotate in opposite directions when water flows through. The design has the advantages that not only the output is sufficiently higher without supplementary equipment (such as a gearbox), but also the rotational moment hardly affects the support structure because the rotational torque of both propellers/armatures are counter-balanced in the unit.

The tests were conducted by towing the device by a ship, but ultimately stationary (floating) devices can utilize the ocean currents to generate next-generation electricity.

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