The Crimson marine project is working on hydrokinetic turbines that can produce clean energy at a reduced cost.

Researchers at the University of Galway claim to have successfully tested a special foil for the generation of renewable energy from rivers and tides.

The researchers tested a five-metre-long foil that is designed for hydrokinetic turbines. When placed perpendicular to river or tidal currents, the foils spin from the force and send clean, renewable energy to an underwater generator.

The test involved 1.3m fatigue cycles on the turbine foil and the researchers claim this is the highest number ever reported on a full-scale marine energy component in dry laboratory conditions.

The successful testing is a milestone for the Crimson marine project, which aims to develop and deliver to market a sustainable marine turbine that can produce clean energy at a reduced cost. The project is being led by Galway-based ÉireComposites, with technology designed by the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC).

In 2021, this project secured €3m in funding from the European Commission via the Fast Track to Innovation programme.

The technology underwent intense stress testing in the University of Galway’s Large Structures Testing Laboratory to show its ability to withstand operational loads over its design lifetime. Dr William Finnegan, assistant professor and principal investigator of the Crimson project, said the results help to “de-risk” the technology and give insights for structural health monitoring and inform “the next generation of testing standards”.

“The combination of such high-level design and manufacturing with University of Galway’s state-of-the-art testing will improve the reliability of river and tidal energy devices as they move closer to commercial viability,” Finnegan said.

The test foil was designed by ORPC Ireland and manufactured from a high-performance carbon fibre reinforced polymer by ÉireComposites.

“We’re delighted to see our work with ORPC Ireland, University of Galway and the other partners coming to fruition and we’re excited about the commercial potential for marine hydrokinetic devices in delivering clean, sustainable energy,” said ÉireComposites CEO Tomás Flanagan.

“At a time when global interest is focused on achieving a net-zero emission future, it is great to be making advances in the technology that supports this global shift.”

The next phase of the project will trial a complete turbine in operational conditions at a large towing tank in Italy, with support from the country’s National Research Council.

Leigh Mc Gowran

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