Tapered Channel Wave Energy
The success of a tapered wave energy system relies on many variables. To design a system which harnesses energy with the maximum efficiency, it is necessary build a scale prototype in order to examine the effect of these variables on the efficiency of system. After studying the different variables, the designer of the TAPCHAN system will need to conduct an optimization analysis with the goal of maximizing the energy collected by the reservoir.

Variables Studied

From our research and understanding of the fundamentals of coastal engineering, it is concluded that channels tapered at a wider angle concentrate wave energy the most efficiently. However, the larger the taper, the larger the percentage of energy collected that is lost to reflection off of the channel walls. These two variables must be balanced to come up with the most efficient design. Energy calculations backed up with model experimentation should be thoroughly conducted before approving a final design.

Other Considerations

Unfortunately, TAPCHAN can only be used in specific environments. Like all wave power converters, TAPCHAN needs high average wave energy and consistent waves. This rules out lakes as an energy source and makes ocean coastal environments the best choice for TAPCHAN. Deep water close to shore is also a requirement for TAPCHAN to run successfully so the wave height will not diminish as the wave moves closer to shore. Since TAPCHAN requires waves to reach an elevated reservoir, a location that is not largly affected by tides is essential for TAPCHAN to be able to run successfully. Finally, TAPCHAN requires a coastal envirionment where a large reservoir can be constructed. As one can see, finding the right location for TAPCHAN to work is very difficult since TAPCHAN's success is dependent on earth's geography and naturally occuring events.

Another consideration in TAPCHAN's design that was not evaluated in the analysis is the material to be used. TAPCHAN will need to be able to stand up against harsh storms and will ideally be battered by constant waves. TAPCHAN will need to composed of heavy duty materials in order to hold up against storms and waves. Concrete will be essential in the design/construction of TAPCHAN. Also, another idea would be to use the natural environment. An example would be to carve out a channel and reservoir into existing rock if the opportunity arrose.

In class, the topic of wave runnup was briefly discussed. Wave runnup depends on slope, surface rouchness, and offshore wave height. Like mentioned in the materials section, concrete would be a good choice to use in the construction since it has a low surface roughness compared to other materials that would funtion the same in the design. Also, another idea that could be implemented would be to use sheet metal on the slope of TAPCHAN. Metal has a smooth surface and could act as a protector to the concrete and would be able to be replaced every few years if need be.  

Project for CEE 514 - Coastal Engineering
By: Rachel & Jason
Copyright 2010

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