Researchers have been awarded almost £1million to test the potential for flexible materials to be used in the design and manufacture of offshore renewable energy structures.
The FlexWave project will explore whether types of rubber, composites and polymers can be effective in harnessing wave power and converting it into a renewable and sustainable source of energy.
It will assess whether such materials are better at withstanding extreme storms and sea conditions, and pose less of a threat to the environments in which they are placed.
And it will explore if flexible materials can be more reliable, sustainable and cost effective than existing alternatives such as steel or concrete.
The FlexWave project is being supported by a grant of £984,000 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
It will be led by academics from the University of Plymouth, in conjunction with colleagues from the University of Oxford and University of Southampton and they will also work closely with an advisory board of industry and innovation partners from the ORE sector.
Together, the three-year project will unite experts in hydrodynamics, materials and deployable structures to tackle the potential challenges in design, manufacture and survivability of flexible wave energy systems.
It will include several phases of design analysis and numerical modelling simulations, to test the technology’s performance, as well as physical tests within the cutting edge COAST Laboratory in Plymouth.
The researchers will also work closely with the advisory board and wider industry to ensure any technology developed can be applied in real-world settings.