Making waves work: the Searaser hydro-power system
November 27, 2008 Like the VIVACE system recently covered on Gizmag, SEARASER is a new approach to utilizing hydro-power as a renewable energy source. The idea works on the conventional principle of using water pressure to drive turbines but achieves this in a unique way. It consists of a tethered wave energy converter which uses the rolling motion of waves to pump water to higher ground on-shore from where it can then be stored and used to create electricity on demand.
The brain-child of British inventor Alvin Smith, SEARASER uses a float attached to a double acting piston which is in turn fixed to a weight on the sea bed. As the float rises and falls on the ocean swell, the energy is used to pump water - no fossil fuels required.
The system is able to operate in rough weather, as little as 30 feet of water and has a self-adjusting mechanism which allows it to accommodate different tide levels by locking in to a suitable height. It requires no electrics, no dams (though a catchment pond or ponds would need to be constructed) and no ugly seaside structures with all machinery able to be located underground.
If no suitable on-shore location is available to store the water, SEARASER can produce enough pressure to drive turbine generators near sea level according to its inventor. The only drawback here is that the production of energy would then be at the mercy of the waves entirely. i.e. no waves equals no power.
The prototype has reportedly pumped water up a 160 foot hill though a pipe, but a full sized Searaser could potentially pump water up 650 feet and generate about 0.25 MW of power.