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You are here: > News > Oct. 6, 2005

Offshore "Bobbing" Device for Harnessing Wave Energy

The Manchester (UK) Bobber, a patented new wave energy device, passed Phase One last January, testing of 1/100th scale working model. Phase Two will now involve testing a 1/10th scale device.  Could out-perform wind farms.

Adapted by Sterling D. Allan for Pure Energy Systems News

Artist's conception of Manchester Bobber

MANCHESTER, UK -- Think of a cork bouncing up and down in the waves.  Think of harnessing that up and down motion.  That is what a group from the University of Manchester is doing, in partnership with Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning.

Their patented new wave energy device is known as the 'Manchester Bobber' -- a suitable name considering that Manchester was famous for bobbins, back in the cotton era.

The vision is to have a series of Bobbers working together to generate electricity.  Tests at Manchester University suggest that the device could outperform wind farms.

One concept which is currently being explored is the use of decommissioned offshore rigs as platforms for the devices, elevated 65 feet above the sea.  One rig, for example, fitted with bobbers could generate a mean of 5 megawatts.

Co-inventor of the Manchester Bobber, and Professor of Hydrodynamics at The University of Manchester, Professor Peter Stansby, said: "Offshore wave energy represents a substantial concentrated 'green' energy source for an island state like the UK.

"Energy from the sea may be extracted in many ways and harnessing the energy from the bobbing motion of the sea is not a new idea. It is the hydrodynamics of the float employed by the Manchester Bobber that provides the vital connection to generating electricity."

The devices unique features include:

  • The vulnerable mechanical and electrical components are housed in a protected environment well above sea level, which makes for ease of accessibility.
  • All mechanical and electrical components are readily available, resulting in high reliability, compared to other devices with a large number of more sophisticated components.
  • The Manchester Bobber will respond to waves from any direction without requiring adjustment.
  • The ability to maintain and repair specific 'Bobber' generators (independent of others in a linked group) means that generation supply to the network can continue uninterrupted.

The initial concept for the Manchester Bobber was conceived in January 2004 with a 12 month Carbon Trust award. The design, development and testing of the device has been carried out at the University of Manchester led by Professor Peter Stansby and Dr Alan Williamson.

NaREC Marine Test Facility
where the 1/10-scale bobbers will be tested for two weeks.  The facility has 3 seawater docks, a wave maker, and access to pumps to emulate a tidal race. The facility is designed to emulate a 1/10th-scale environment.

Phase One of the project (testing of 1/100th scale working model) was successfully completed in January 2005. Phase Two, which is commencing now, involves a 1/10th scale device that has been constructed and will be tested at NaREC over a two-week period.

Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning are also developing and costing conceptual designs for a full-scale platform. Phase Three will involve a full scale prototype being constructed and tested in parallel with detailed costings and engineering design for the optimum full scale concept from Phase Two.

Notes to Editors:

Professor Peter Stansby is Professor of Hydrodynamics within the School of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering, which is part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester.

The University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited (UMIP) is the University's technology transfer and intellectual property commercialisation company. It was formed by the merger of two very successful companies, UMIST Ventures and Manchester Innovation. Taken together these two companies have set up and managed some 100 technology licences and over 60 spin-off companies, including several which have gone on to stock market listings. For information, visit

Mowlem plc is a leading international provider of construction and support services, with a £2 billion annual turnover and over 25,000 employees worldwide operating through 8 principal business units: Mowlem Building, Mowlem Asset Services, Mowlem Infrastructure, Mowlem Engineering, Mowlem International, Mowlem Project, Mowlem Managed Services, Mowlem Environmental Sciences Group.

Established in 1822, Mowlem has evolved from being purely a construction contractor to become a market leading construction and support services group, able to deliver a unique range of capabilities to public and private sector customers across a comprehensive range of market sectors. For further information, please visit

Royal Haskoning is an international and multidisciplinary firm of consultants, architects and engineers. Their advisory services cover the broad spectrum that encompasses the sustainable interaction between people and their environment in regard to spatial development, infrastructure & transport, architecture & building, mechanical & electrical services, environment, water, coastal & rivers. They advise public and private sector organisations all over the world

# # #


  • Manchester Press Release  Sept. 5, 2005
  • Manchester develops new wave energy device: The Manchester Bobber
    Innovations-Report, Germany - Sep 6, 2005
    ... in partnership with Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning, are developing an innovative and patented new wave energy device known as the ‘Manchester Bobber’. ...
  • Bobber may outperform offshore windfarms
    Guardian Unlimited, UK - Oct 2, 2005
    ... the maximum output. The Manchester bobber's output of five megawatts is the mean power output, with the potential of much more.".
  • Bobbing corks 'could give power', Italy - Oct 2, 2005
    ... into electricity. If put into full-scale use, the "Manchester Bobber" would be attached to a rig 65ft above the sea. Co-inventor ...
  • POWER IDEA IS A CORKER, UK - Oct 2, 2005
    A wind turbine creates two megawatts at best from wave energy, but a rig of floats - known as a Manchester Bobber - can produce five on average. ...


Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer
telephone: 0161 2758387

Related News

  • (different company) Swell magnet stokes support for wave power - Hugh-Peter Kelly, the founder of Trident Energy, uses the up and down motion of a floating buoy to move an electrical coil along a stack of magnets, which generates an alternating current in the coil. 1/5-scale testing completed. (Nature; Oct. 11, 2005)

See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Sept. 22, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





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ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
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