BENGALURU: A Bengaluru-based former Captain with the Merchant Navy and an innovator has designed a device to harness energy from oceanic waves at a reasonable price.Captain D C Sekhar’s device converts energy from waves into electricity. He started to build a prototype in December 2016, and a grant for his project was approved in February 2017 by the Department of Science and Industrial Research (DSIR) through its PRISM (Promoting Innovations in Individuals, Start ups and MSMEs) scheme. Drawing from his 26 years of experience with the Merchant Navy, he fabricated the prototype at Sadahalli (near Devanahalli), Bengaluru, and tested it at IIT-Madras, where artificial waves were created in a pool. The results were positive.
“Some private ports have shown interest in the product and I am in talks with them. They can use it to power the breakwater lights. The device can be especially useful in islands,” Captain Sekhar said. The device has two parts — the top part, which consists of multiple drums floating on the surface; and the bottom one, which consists of shafts and connecting rods to transmit motion of waves to a generator to produce electricity. It can be customised for different tidal ranges and depths, and the seabed unit can be wet towed, ie, moved along the water surface. A wave with a height of 80 cm is necessary to effectively harness energy.
Sekhar says several firms worldwide have tried to create such a product but failed due to the high capital cost. “The prototype was developed at a cost of `12.25 lakh, of which `8.7 lakh was from the grant. In comparison, a Danish firm trying to build something similar was unable to find investors to match-fund a whopping $20 million grant,” he said.
The Captain has applied for a patent for his latest innovation. Speaking of the challenges, Sekhar said this form of energy had to compete with solar and wind energy, wherein the technology had already matured. The capital cost to set up a 10kW unit is around `40 lakh, while that of a 15kW unit is about `1.5 crore.
The next innovation that Sekhar is planning is a hybrid, unmanned wave-powered boat with a long cruising range, which could serve as a platform for sensors and surveillance.