Giant Sea Snakes to Provide Electricity
Okay, so they're not really snakes, but they're longer than they are wide, and they live in the ocean... but the resemblance ends there. The Anaconda is a giant hydroelectric plant that generates power from passing waves, like a subaquatic wind sock. This outside-the-box design will apparently be both more efficient and lower-maintenance.
The rippling "Anaconda" produces electricity as it is squeezed by passing waves. Its developers say it would produce more energy than existing wave-energy devices and be cheaper to maintain.
The passage of each wave squeezes the rubber and produces a bulging pressure wave that travels down its length. When the bulge reaches the end it sets turbines spinning to generate electricity.
Eventually, full-scale versions should be 7 metres across, 200 m long and be anchored at one end in water between 40 m and 100 m deep.
For now, however, engineers John Chaplin and Grant Hearn at the University of Southampton are testing mini Anacondas, a few metres long, in a wave tank. "The top barely breaks the surface, and you can see the bulges moving down the tube," says Chaplin.
"In engineering terms, it is unlike any other offshore structure," he told New Scientist. "It's not a solid structure like an oil platform and it doesn't behave like a boat either."
Plus, it looks satisfyingly sci-fi, in a scary surprise for divers kinda way.