Wave Propulsion: Brief History and Remedy
French and Russian proponents of harnessing sea wave energy provide a short history, identifying why the approach has been abandoned by major entities, and suggesting how to revive this yet-to-be-fully-actualized approach.
The increased cost of power resources and shortage of fuel result in a need
to develop new ways to get more effective use of energy sources. One
little-known way is to use energy of sea waves with the help of oscillating
wings to propel ships.
G.E.Pavlenko's 1936 article outlines the major scientific work on using the energy of rocking on heavy sea for movement of ships . The researchers worked on a theoretical basis for creation of draft (thrust) by applying the energy of sea waves to underwater wing structures on a ship. Please see references 1,7,8,10,14. Tests of model thruster-wings using energy of waves began in 1978. In 1980, in Trondheim, Norway, an experiment was run on a model boat 1.02 m. in length, in which a traveling speed of 1.76 knots was fixed . The engine had been switched off so that movement was occurring only due to sea-wave energy. Norway's Wave Control Company carried out natural tests on a 7.5 m boat (fig.1) which was equipped with two and four wings, each having a surface area of 0.5 square meters. The maximal speed achieved was 6 knots.
Application of these mechanisms for reception of more significant sizes of hydro-dynamical forces also enables the operator to change the angle of attack of the wing. The ideal angle will depend on the speed of a ship, height of the waves, and other operational factors. In particular, with application of pneumatic servomechanisms the optimum angle of attack at various speeds can be maintained by modifying the pressure of compressed air, proportional to the square of the speed of a ship. In the long term, the company planned to develop computerized-control system of servomechanisms, automatically synchronizing them to work with movement of waves and supporting optimum values of angle of attack.
To support continuing development of this thruster-wing, in 1983 the government of Norway gave a grant of 450,000 Kroner. The Institute of Fisher Technology Research is participating in this work also. Successful thruster tests on a research trolling boat "Kystfanqst" with gross tonnage of 180 metric tonnes, and length of 20.4 m (fig. 4 and 5) were carried out in 1984.
The trolling boat is equipped with a rostrum structure to allow the wings to
be mounted three meters forward of the bow. The thruster consists of two wings,
with two variants, one with the wings of three square meters, and the other of
five square meters. Pneumatic servomechanisms are used to maintain the necessary
angle of attack. The supporting arm was designed so that this thruster-wing
could be taken from the water for realization of comparative tests using engine
propulsion. The trial runs which were carried out in 1984 showed positive
results. The Wave Control Co. engineer, Ejnara Jakobson, is named as the
inventor of this thurster-wing . Company Wave Control Co. has patented the
thruster-wing in Great Britain and in other English-speaking countries.
According to the company Hitachi Tsozan, a 300-meter ship (see fig. 6) can
accelerate up to 11 knots with just the energy supplied by the oscillating wings
extracting energy from waves, and no engine assistance. When moving into
port in the absence of heavy seas, or when an increase of speed is required
beyond that supplied by wave energy, power from the ship’s engines will be
applied to oscillate the wing more rapidly.
Much work has been done in the past decade toward the creation of thruster-wing systems to enable ships to extract energy of waves . Now in France a new proposal has been offered to create thruster for boats using a wing to capture energy of sea waves. Please see the website : https://kneider.site.voila.fr
As this brief overview shows, mankind frequently invents new ideas, spends
money in researching them, and moves on. Previous efforts are forgotten. .
Then again man comes back to these ideas, and again discards them. This
indicates that new energy sources and technologies are very difficult physical
phenomena to control properly. Completely new designs and concepts are necessary
for the achievement of a viable and cost-effective technology.
For 75 years there were some attempts to make a boat with wing thruster
extracting energy from sea waves. There were even small successes. But the big
success was not achieved. Why?
Once this fatal flaw is overcome and a properly-controlled thruster can
extract energy of sea waves, it will be possible to make economically
advantageous use of energy that is also easier on the environment. It will be
possible to create highly effective boats and yachts, ship moving in full or in
part due to energy of sea waves, all from a renewable
To meet this design challenge, the complex behavior of water must be fully taken into account. And without serious financing the big successes are not possible.
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# # #
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