Project Odyssee - water desalination using wave power
Tom Spendlove posted on December 19, 2014 |
Students from Sherbrooke University look to Kickstarter to fund their ambitious fresh water conversi...

Renaud Lafortune and Dragan Tutic have an ambitious goal: desalinate one million liters of clean water per day. The Sherbrooke University students are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund Projet Odyssee, their prototype desalination system.

The overall goal of their massive student project was to ‘develop a new machine that desalinates sea water using only the power of waves’. After building a first prototype this new campaign is intended to fund a second prototype and create a permanent solution that would sustainably support four hundred people.

The target customers for Odyssee are isolated communities that currently ship fresh water into their areas for use. Prototype testing was done in the Magdalen Islands in September 2014.\

A simple buoy cylinder system translates the linear motion from a buoy floating up and down on the waves into rotary motion. The hydraulic motor inside the conversion system produces torque for a pump that takes the converted fresh water and carries it to shore.

This second prototype will be tested in a region farther north or south, most likely around Madagascar or Alaska. Both areas were chosen to harness the potential energy from their more powerful wave energy.

Odyssee was a two year engineering problems full of learning opportunities for the team. The same ocean currents and waves that will produce the desalination effect also made installation difficult.

Waves added another layer of complication because of their intermittent nature and frequent changes in amplitude and period. This led to MATLAB and Simulink modeling that developed an algorithm to help the slow moving waves to power higher speed hydraulic pumps and motors.

This project is ambitious in scale and involves huge machinery for installation but is seeking to change the world in small target areas. Speaking with Renaud and Dragan about the project reveals that they are passionate, incredibly optimistic and willing to work through several different layers of problems to reach their solution.\

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