Renishaw, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, UK, recently collaborated with the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), Nova Scotia, Canada, to produce two metal additively manufactured ocean turbine parts for industrial design firm Biome Renewables.
Renishaw helped manufacture a PowerCone® retrofit, sits on the hub of an existing turbine and improves efficiency by 10–15% by letting the blades rotate at slower speeds, and curved propellors, which reduce drag in the water. Using metal AM to produce these parts reportedly reduced costs by 80% and allowed two turbine components to be developed in two months.
Biome Renewables specialises in wind turbine design. It approached NSCC when it decided to expand into tidal wave energy, because of the college’s specialism in ocean technology and its engineering research facility, which builds prototypes for different industries. Because the plastic solutions used by NSCC were inappropriate for tidal environments, it chose to use metal AM to make the parts stronger, and approached Renishaw for technical assistance.
The PowerCone and propellers developed by NSCC and Renishaw were used to build a prototype turbine, which was tested at Strangford Loch in Northern Ireland, UK. They were then added to an existing turbine for testing. After the turbine was submerged, tests showed that the modification produced significant levels of power over a wide range of tidal velocities.
“Additive Manufacturing allowed us to produce the final parts in two months, which would be unthinkable using traditional methods,” explained Mark Kirby, Additive Manufacturing Business Manager at Renishaw Canada. “The ocean turbine project was not only a great opportunity for us to work with one of our many Canadian customers, it was a chance for us to see how metal AM can improve the efficiency of renewable sources.”
“Tidal turbine energy is one of many growing renewable energy markets and it was really exciting to be involved in a project like this,” he continued. “While people often think of metal AM as an expensive venture, the technology allowed Biome to reduce the cost of building the turbine by 80%. We look forward to working on more projects like this and seeing how other companies benefit from metal AM.”