Based in Sydney Australia, BioPower Systems is a renewable energy company with a unique approach to design and development. They use nature as the inspiration for their projects, which helps to mitigate impact and ensure more seamless integration with the environment. BioPower Sytems produces three separate technologies at this stage.
The bioWAVE system is designed to capture power from ocean waves while operating at a deapth of 30 meters. The system is mounted to the sea floor and contains an array of buoyant floats. As waves push these floats back and forth, they push an onboard power conversion module called “O-Drive” (see below). Basically, bioWAVE rocks back and forth to capture energy as waves move past it. The system is very simple, modular, and poses little threat to marine organisms.
This system is designed for tidal currents, though it could just as easily be used in river currents. The mechanism itself looks much like the hind part of a fish or shark, complete with caudal fin. In currents of 2.5 meters per second or faster, the “tail” oscillates back and forth just as a fish would to propel itself through the water. The oscillation drives the company’s proprietary O-Drive generator.
At the heart of BioPower technologies is the O-Drive power conversion module. O-Drive is a 250 kW generator designed to be detachable, modular, and low cost. Being detachable is important because it allows modules to be brought to the surface for repair while back-up modules are deployed. The modularity helps decrease downtime and maintenance costs.
The system uses two hydraulic cylinders to deliver high pressure fluid to a bank of accumulators. These, in turn, supply a constant, uniform flow of fluid to a hydraulic motor that is directly coupled to an electric generator. Such a system is self-regulating. The current 250 kW generators can be combined into arrays.