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Biofilm prevention in the generator of a direct drive wave energy converter

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Chang LiORCiD, Dr Serkan TurkmenORCiD, Dr Nick BakerORCiD, Dr John Finlay, Emmet Ryan


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As wave energy approaches commercial reality, long term biofouling prevention within electrical generators operating in the marine environment must be considered. This paper gives a comprehensive discussion of biofilm build up and describes early-stage work to investigate the use of UVC irradiation to control biofouling within the electrical machine and bearing surface of a wave energy converter. Initial investigations were conducted by using flat panels (600mm x 220mm) to simulate the active gap of an electric generator. Diatom dominated biofilms were produced using an artificial slime farm which allows test panels to be subjected to a continuous dynamic flow. The light source of UVC irradiation was provided by Light Emitting Diodes with 278nm wavelength. The effectiveness of the biofilm prevention by UVC has been evaluated by Image Analysis. The results confirm that using UVC can achieve a significant control over the development of biofilms. It has also been demonstrated that intermittent UV can achieve successful biofilm prevention on submerged surfaces, saving energy and prolonging battery life in early-stage demonstrations. However, observations indicate the actual UVC light intensity may perform below the manufacturer’s specifications, and this could lead to a detrimental effect on its biofilm control performance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Li C, Turkmen S, Baker N, Finlay J, Ryan E

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Proceedings of the 15th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference

Year of Conference: 2023

Online publication date: 02/09/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 01/12/2023

Publisher: Proceedings of the EWTEC


DOI: 10.36688/ewtec-2023-270