There is potential to reduce the cost of wave energy through use of deformable fabric/elastomeric structures for wave energy conversion. Deformable bodies can have several advantages over their conventional rigid counterparts. In particular, a heaving deformable body can have a longer resonance period than that of a heaving rigid body of the same size, because of the lower hydrostatic stiffness. This means that the device can be smaller and hence cheaper if a deformable body is used. Further advantages of fabric/elastomeric structures are that they are lightweight, they do not require as much material as rigid structures for the same given volume, and they have very good fatigue properties. A flexible WEC is not only potentially smaller and lighter than a comparable rigid device but it does not assume its final volume until it is on-site. This means that transport and deployment costs are also reduced. We will perform a) modelling to understand the performance loads on two devices: one with deformable/elastomeric parts and a rigid counterpart device for comparison, b) some initial materials testing of a promising material that could be used for deformable devices together with the construction of trial fabrication samples and c) a techno-economic study which includes a roadmap for technology development. We aim to prove the principle use of deformable structures in wave energy will lead to improved survivability and reduced cost without compromising performance.
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