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Directory:Tidal and River Turbine by University of Southampton

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&lt&lt A Congress:Top 100 Technologies -- RD Energy Technology &gt&gt

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Image:TurnockFig2 250.jpg

Southampton Integrated Tidal Generator

The University of Southampton's minimalist design in their tidal generator significantly reduces the number of moving parts, and is fully assembled prior to installation, significantly reducing costs. Estimates five years to commercialization.

Official Website

no company website yet, as it is still in R&D at the University of Southampton

The following are the sponsoring agencies: - Ship Science -- School of Engineering -- University of Southampton - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (funding)

Design Overview

exerpt from

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"This is a compact design that does away with many of the moving parts found in current marine turbines. It's a new take on tidal energy generation," says Turnock.

Most current tidal-stream generators are essentially wind turbines turned upside down and made to work underwater. They often include complex gearboxes and move the entire assembly to face the flow of the water. For example, they turn a half-circle as the tidal current reverses direction. Gears and moving parts require expensive maintenance. When they are used in seawater, protection from rust and corrosion can involve sealed housings for joints and other added components. This pushes up the cost of running the turbines, a cost that is passed on to the consumers of the generated electricity.

The Southampton design does not need to turn around because the design of its turbine blades means that they turn equally well, regardless of which way the water flows past them. The blades are also placed in a specially shaped housing that helps channel the water smoothly through the turbine.

Another beauty of the Southampton design is that everything is wrapped in a single package that can be prefabricated so there will be few on-site construction costs. "Just drop it into flowing water and it will start generating electricity. It will work best in fast-flowing, shallow water," says Turnock, who foresees rows of these devices secured to sea floors and riverbeds.

The present prototype is just twenty-five centimetres across. The research team now plans to design a larger model with improved propeller blades that will further increase the efficiency of generating electricity. All being well, the team envisages the generator becoming commercially available within five years.


On June 14, 2006, Dr. Stephen Turnock of the University of Southampton provided the following self-evaluation of his group's turbine design, according to the Congress:Technology Criteria set forth by the New Energy Congress.

I. Renewable

Energy is associated with manufacture/installation after that with a reliable tide or river current should generate power with very little external power requirement

8 or 9? (presuming 10 is best)

II. Environmental Impact

These are slow running turbines 10-50 rpm (dependent on scale) with low solidity blades (e.g.. larger marine mammals will avoid and likewise fish). Some possible localized influence (seabed scour and likewise for mounting cables on sea or river bed other than that. One area I am uncertain of is the likely environmental impact of manufacture of the magnetic material used in rim generator

again 8 or 9

III. Cost (cents / kw-h)

difficult to judge but because of avoiding gearbox should be comparable with that of existing tidal generators e.g. perhaps 20 cents per kw-h. This price is my estimate based on experience with large devices, but at initial stage of development rather than mass-produced, when hopefully the price would reduce by 50%.

IV. Credibility of Evidence

prototype study of technology at model scale

7 out of 10

V. Stability / Reliability

power generation will be as predictable as tides and hopefully with suitable power electronics design should be very reliable as require minimal maintenance


VI. Implementation

next phase will need working up of an appropriate scale demonstrator system


VII. Safety/Danger to Persons

main risk is associated with installation/maintenance and this will be in common with all marine related activities. Also some danger to shipping although installation will always require appropriate warnings of danger and avoidance of shipping lanes etc


VIII. Politics of science



IX. Open-Source conducive


X. Stage of Device Development

model scale prototype


NEC Comments

On June 14, 2006, in response to the question of whether this technology belongs in the There was an error working with the wiki: Code[1] said:

"Its simplicity (coils inside the shroud, free propellor) is very attractive. Too bad for the fish, just like wind turbines for birds. Until we can replace oil, this damage is less than oil and [the technology] should be [pursued]."

In the News

Image:TurnockFig2 95x95.jpg

Compact tidal generator could reduce the cost of producing electricity from flowing water - The University of Southampton's minimalist design significantly reduces the number of moving parts, and is fully assembled prior to installation. Estimates five years to commercialization. (PESN June 13, 2006)


Dr Stephen Turnock, Course Coordinator Senior Lecturer in

Ship Science

University of Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

tel: +44 (0)2380 592488

e-mail: []


See Talk:Directory:Tidal and River Turbine by University of Southampton

See also

Directory:Tidal Power

- Directory