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Oxford University Spins Off Tidal Turbine Company

Tidal turbine illustration (Isis)

Tidal turbine illustration (Isis Innovation)

A new enterprise, Kepler Energy Limited, has been formed in the U.K. to develop a tidal turbine, a result of research in Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science. Professors Guy Houlsby, Martin Oldfield, and Malcolm McCulloch developed the turbine (pictured right), which they say has the potential to harness tidal energy more efficiently and cheaply than comparable devices that exist today.

U.K.’s waters have an estimated 10 per cent of the global extractable tidal resources. Tidal currents are sub-surface, so tidal turbines have minimum visual impact, unlike wind farms or estuary barrage schemes.

Kepler Energy Limited will design, test, and develop a horizontal axis water turbine that intersects the largest possible area of tidal current. The rotor is cylindrical and rolls around its axis, thereby catching the current. A full-scale device would measure up to 10 meters in diameter, and a series of turbines can be chained together across a tidal channel.

The researchers received £50,000 in funding from the Oxford University Challenge Seed fund, managed by Isis Innovation, Oxford’s technology transfer arm, to build a 0.5 meter diameter prototype demonstrating the benefits of the design.

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