Wave-driven water pump has no moving parts

June 9, 2011
The Wave Pump harvests energy from sea waves without the use of moving parts.

The Wave Pump from Gangolf Jobb harvests energy from sea waves without the use of moving parts. Currently in the prototype stage, the Wave Pump is made of concrete with a transparent side of acrylic glass, so you can see what happens inside.

The wave pump comprises an OWC-type (oscillating-water-column) wave chamber and a series of specially shaped basins, stacked on top of each other, with room in-between for water to flow. An OWC device taps the pressure of the enclosed air in a cavity (column of air). Air pressure varies as a function of the level of water in the cavity — the higher the water, the greater the air pressure. Ideally, the OWC device is installed on a float near the coast. As waves enter and leave the wave chamber, the changing air pressure in the wave chamber causes portions of water to travel from one basin up to the next higher basin, in all basins simultaneously. According to Jobb, given enough basins and a large wave chamber, the water can, in principle, climb to any height, even when waves are small. The elevated water could then, for instance, exit a pipe and the resulting waterfall could drive a water turbine for electric power generation.

The higher the water is pumped, the smaller the turbine can be. This is an advantage over other wave-power technologies such as the tapered-channel wave-energy pump, or Tapchan, which can lift the water only to a limited height. Another Wave Pump advantage is it can work with freshwater, which is less corrosive to the turbine than seawater, in a closed loop.

Also, the Wave Pump allows for more-efficient energy conversion than conventional OWC approaches, which usually use a Wells air turbine. Elevated water from a large number of wave pumps can easily be collected and fed into one single more-efficient and less-costly water turbine, whereas the oscillating air flows from a large number of wave chambers cannot easily be collected and fed into one big Wells turbine. Kilometer-long rows of Wave Pumps along the coast could together generate a considerable water flow.

The Wave Pump can also be used for drainage. Currently, this is done with conventional water pumps driven by wind mills or by steam, diesel, or electric engines to pump water over levees in Holland into the sea.

Jobb says he got the idea for the Wave Pump after hearing about rising sea levels due to climate change and the resulting threat of flooded lowlands. “It seemed it might be a good idea to use the power of the sea itself to keep the sea away from the lowlands. The technology would have to inexpensively pump large amounts of water. I basically modified an OWC so it directly pumps water.” He says he successfully tested a small prototype at the North Sea. The device is patent pending. Reach Gangolf Jobb at [email protected].

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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