Incredibly Easy Project Management : A Mildly Heretical Perspective

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While some of this radiation can cancel waves that a stationary buoy would have reflected, they are also sending energy to where the water would have been calm. A possible way to avoid some of this loss would be to have a line of close-packed heaving buoys placed a quarter of a wavelength in front of a reflecting cliff, so that the wasted energy is returned with the correct phase.

But what is the right phase for one wave length and amplitude will not be correct for different ones. A crest of a wave in an irregular sea is seldom the same magnitude as the next trough. The loss of energy from unwanted radiation patterns would not matter in countries with very long coastlines or at mid ocean sites with energy coming from all round.

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But if we want to take full advantage of the near-shore coast resource, we should try to use shapes and motions that generate or absorb waves only on one side, at least in low and moderate sea states. There are several possibilities to reduce waves transmitted astern: air-filled bags or sliding wedges mounted on a fixed back wall and the Edinburgh duck mounted on a long spine are all obvious. A particularly efficient one is the Evans cylinder mentioned earlier.

This is submerged, has a circular cross section, and moves in both heave and surge. If it moved only in heave, it would generate waves symmetrically on both sides. If it moved only in surge, the waves on each side would be antisymmetric. The result is an astonishingly efficient wave absorber with fewer moving parts than the long-spine duck system.

The only snag is that a submerged, neutrally buoyant, circular cylinder has no hydrostatic spring.


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The spring rate needed to cancel the inertia has to be provided by the power takeoff. This can be done with very high efficiency with small models but gets much harder at full scale.

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However, the Evans cylinder needs to put in to the spring and then take out again about five times more energy than goes into the damping system, which delivers the useful output. Future reductions in losses may be possible. Whatever the choice of absorber I am arguing that, contrary to proposals from many developers, we should minimise gaps between them with a positive method to control the gap dimension.

Norman Willoughby (Author of Incredibly Easy Project Management)

To start a company and raise investments a new developer must build a working prototype and the quicker the better. Attention is so focussed on the very first machine that it is easy to forget that we will be wanting thousands of them. Except, for places like Norway and the Falklands, the per capita length of high-energy sea front is quite low, only 6. Isolated point absorbers are able to get more energy than is contained in their own geometrical width.

However, getting the very high capture widths, which are mathematically possible, needs large movements which become non-linear. Point absorbers do not make full use of the sea front. The main importance of point absorber theory is that if close-packed devices have to be installed with moderate gaps for practical reasons, we do not need to worry so much about energy loss through gaps. Wave energy must live alongside other uses of the sea. Mariners are used to submerged rocks and sandbanks.

They greatly prefer obstructions to carry lights, bells, and radar reflectors and to be clearly marked on charts. They will prefer only a moderate number of generously wide, blindingly obvious gaps on the great circle lines between ports to a much greater number of narrow gaps with poorly marked indications. Owners of wave plant should not have to worry about side-to-side collisions. The crews of installation and maintenance vessels should not have to worry about being squashed in the gap. People developing isolated devices must be asked how close they will be to one another, how far will they move under the worst-case wave or fault conditions, how much gap is available for safe passage and how much energy will get through the gaps.

While we will have to compete with nuclear energy, we should not attempt to mimic the collisions of neutrons and atomic nuclei. The cost of cables has a large initial constant and is certainly not linear with rating. Large numbers of wet cable joints are expensive and possibly unreliable. Close packing of wave devices allows dry power combination up to hundreds of megawatts, levels attractive to networks especially if each element has a moderate amount of storage as close as possible to the wave input. We need to develop the technology to provide mechanical and electrical couplings with the right degrees of freedom which can quickly connected or disconnected.

These couplings could use something like a highly manoeuvrable arms with and strong claws and sonar vision at the claw tips. We will need to fit such arms to maintenance vessels, so that they can make a safe connection to remove and replace devices in the middle of a row. I hope that ideas for arms and claws for the seabed attachments of the Oyster will be suitable for shapes that can offer holes in pairs of steel with shapes to guide an approaching claw. Magnets can give contact forces a bit over half an MN per square metre on steel surfaces.

The clever bit is disconnection, but this can be done by surrounding the contact area with a flat fire hose and then pumping in water. For non-ferrous materials, we can make suction pads like an octopus.

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It is highly desirable for the response amplitude operators of the wave plant and the maintenance vessel to be the same but one installation vessel can be shared with hundreds of megawatts of wave plant, so we can afford something quite expensive, perhaps with adjustable hydrodynamics. It is also desirable for connecting hardware to be soft, either with air bags or intelligent hydraulic arms.

A further advantage of close-packed devices is that much of the testing can be done with single units in a narrow tank. A second thought experiment involves a single real narrow tank surrounded by a large number of imaginary narrow tanks placed side by side. Each tank has a wave-maker driven with different signals to mimic the effect of directionally spread irregular seas.

Lots of imaginary devices will be mounted on force-sensitive rigs either side of the real one. The difference of heave and surge forces of adjacent rigs will give the distributed shear forces that would be experienced by a long spine. Beam theory tells us that the integral of a distributed shear force pattern along a beam will give the pattern of distributed bending moments. If the beam had joints which had some means to produce that pattern of bending moments, each numerical device would think that it was part of a long array. We need to build and test only one real wet model to get the result of many.

The change from testing in regular waves to more realistic irregular ones with a Gaussian distribution of wave amplitudes is an unpleasant experience for wave inventors.

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The power signal is the square of the Gaussian distribution with frightening peaks of energy that are determined to go somewhere but are totally incompatible with electrical grids. It was clear that storing energy for about s would make the output much more acceptable. The only way to do this and still retain intelligent power takeoff seemed to be with high-pressure oil hydraulics. However, the designs then on the market were too low in power rating, too low in efficiency especially at part load and were bad at combining energy flows from multiple uncorrelated sources.

We did a rigorous energy analysis of every loss mechanism and ended up with a design using digital control of displacement with electromagnetically controlled poppet valves on each chamber Salter and Rampen It allowed us to move away from swash plates and port-faces in an axial configuration to a radial one with eight or even more separate machines on a common shaft, some motoring, some pumping, and some idling all under the control of a microcomputer costing a few euros which could latch or unlatch poppet valves at the right instants.

Figure 19 shows an early design. Each chamber can be controlled to pump or motor or idle with an option to change the operating mode of each chamber twice a shaft rotation. There is now a growing need for flexible control and high part-load efficiency in vehicle transmissions and suspensions, and it turned out to be possible to fund development by work on machines for the motor industry. This development has been carried out by Artemis Intelligent Power They measured the fuel consumption of a standard BMW 5 series car over a set of defined drive patterns at the Millbrook Vehicle Testing Facility.

They replaced the standard transmission with a digital hydraulic one which included an L gas accumulator for regenerative braking. They then repeated the same driving patterns.

High-speed motorway fuel consumption was the same, but the standard urban fuel consumption was less than half. All the vehicle power management was done by the transmission, and the engine could run at the sweet spot of the power curve, so that the carbon release might be even better than the fuel reduction. The system should be particularly suitable for buses and delivery vehicles which make frequent stops and starts.

Mitsubishi Vestas have replaced conventional gearing of for their Sea Angel turbine. The first prototype has been built on land at Hunterston near Glasgow.