We (MOE) have just completed our testing at the Davidson Laboratory at the Stevens Institute of Technology, and it has been a very exciting week. Above is a pic of our model in the high-speed towing tank, which looks kind of like a particle accelerator filled with water. In fact, the towing tank is capable of achieving very high speeds - it can tow a model at 68 mph! Wave energy converters rarely go that fast ;-)
The facility dates back to 1931 and its history is worth a read. There is a huge collection of wooden models lining the walls of the wave tank from an era when model design was as much art as it was science.
But back to our testing...
The week began simply enough: unpack the model from the shipping boxes. Next we performed a series of dry tests in the workshop to determine the mass, center of gravity, and moments of inertia of the model. Then we assembled the device and mooring and tossed it in the water (actually, we quite carefully placed it in). All of this took almost two days (of our five days of testing), but we were told that that was pretty reasonable.
At around 4 pm on Tuesday, we ran the first set of waves at our device and collected data as part of system verification - to check that everything was working as expected. But guess what? It wasn't...
Before (the day before) we shipped the model to Stevens, we conducted wave tank testing in the Edinburgh Curved Tank. So we knew what to expect from certain wave conditions. However, from our first tests at Stevens, we could see that we were not getting the same values from our sensors as we had in the tests at Edinburgh. Enter stress.
The team at Stevens was extremely helpful in trying to solve the problem and even stayed an hour and a half late for us on Tuesday. However, by the time we left on Tuesday, we still hadn't figured out what was causing the problem. We went home to try and relax and, as the say, sleep on it.
Cameron has been reading The Martian by Andy Weir, and if you've read the book or seen the movie, you know that the main character, Mark Watney, is a rock-star engineer, constantly fixing space things, by himself, on Mars, to stay alive. Surely, we could fix a small-scale model that we built ourselves.
Unfortunately, we couldn't. Interestingly (and fortunately), the model wasn't completely broken, just half broken. All we could do was run the tests on the model as is and write a letter to the Wave Energy Prize explaining our situation.
Despite this, we had a really fantastic week of testing. Stevens is in Hoboken, NJ and has the best views of New York City that you can get.
The team at Stevens was great. We would like if give a huge thank you to Michael, Uihoon, Eric, Austin, Tiago, Doug and Bob! We would also like to thank the DOE and the Wave Energy Prize for giving us this fantastic opportunity!
We are not quite done with the Stage 2 of the Wave Energy Prize yet. By the end of January, we need to provide a build plan for our 20th scale model. The 20th scale model will only be built if we make it to the next stage of the Wave Energy Prize, which we will find out about at the beginning of March. Fingers crossed!
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These posts are intended to help people understand what it is we're doing.