Alan Burns breaks the surface with a huge grin on his face, his baggy black wetsuit hanging off his body like walrus skin. It's a scorching February afternoon, and we're floating in the clear blue water of the Indian Ocean. To our left is the Australian resort island of Rottnest. To our right—just beyond Burns's dazzling white yacht—is several thousand miles of open sea. And beneath us, the kelp forest where we had been diving moments before is swaying to the rhythm of the waves. "Can you feel the power down there?" Burns asks as we bob in the water, his sunburned cheeks puckered up behind a dripping diving mask. "This is what made me think of it, really."
Burns is a prodigious inventor and a staunch supporter of clean energy, but he's no sentimental environmentalist. He's an oilman. He made his first fortune in the mid-1970s with oil and gas discoveries off Australia's northwestern coast. In 1987 he founded the exploration company Hardman Resources, which, after an extremely profitable series of finds off the coast of Africa, was sold in 2006 to another oil company for more than $1 billion. Today the 67-year-old entrepreneur is among the wealthiest men in Perth, the tropical, seaside capital of Western Australia. And although he still runs a mineral-exploration company, he spends 90 percent of his time nurturing the wave-power-generation system he first sketched out some 30 years ago.
Burns named his invention CETO, after a Greek sea goddess. For many years, it was a back-burner project for him, a design he worked on along with myriad others, including a puncture-proof industrial tire, a supersonic, steam-driven jet drive, and a shark-repelling wetsuit that's still in top-secret development. ("I have 500 ideas a day," he says. "But there's no point in inventing a pair of stilts for a red ant. It's got to address a major global problem.") About 10 years ago, Burns started devoting serious time and resources, including $5 million of his own fortune, to the wave-energy project. Unlike other wave-power systems, it rests on the ocean floor, completely hidden from view. Like the kelp that Burns has dived and fished in for decades, his CETO units are designed to sway slowly and gently in time with the waves. The motion drives a piston that pumps high-pressure seawater to shore and powers a generator to make electricity.
Wow, thats pretty good! GO GREEN!
I think wind energy is great. I buy 100% wind sourced energy from my utility, BUT Wave, Tide and Solar Thermal (with heat storage capacity) seem to make so much more sense since they don't shut down when the wind is calm or when the sun goes down.
Can't wait to get an electric Chysler mini-van and plug it into a charging port powered by green energy!
...Genius...Genius...Genius! Alan Burns obviously finds himself in a very unique position here...being able to parlay years of experience from one industry and use those same lessons to go green...eureka! This WILL BE the wave-design of the future...because who wants to have obstacles interfering with their local beach, or their vacation destinations.
Mr. Burns is a billionaire for the best of reasons...he's a genius!
The great thing about men like Burns and Branson is that they can afford to create whatever they think of... The problem with them is that they can afford to create whatever they think of. If they can afford to create this tool for extracting energy from the water like this, or hydrogen cars, or whatever other big, wonderful, impractical and expensive idea they have they go with it. They don't think like poor people, and they don't consider that things like this will still cost people rather large amounts of money for the creation of usable energy, and for transportation of said energy.
I've been working on an invention for nearly a decade that would create unlimited energy, and can be large enough to fuel an entire city, small enough to power a cell phone, and can actually be placed in any home allowing the home to produce it's own energy. Unfortunately, I don't have the money these men do...
Think smaller, Mr. Burns... Not like smaller tech or smaller ideas or smaller projects... Smaller people with smaller budgets. Quit working on things that will make you more money and start working on things that will free us all from paying people for our power needs...
Oh so wrong on oh so many levels CarpeNoctu! You forget to take into account that ALL new technology costs a lot at first, it's new. A whole lot of tech we have today was developed after hundreds of millions of dollars of spending (be it in military development or space exploration.) I still see us surrounded by it and yes, in every home. I'd also like to know when the search for a better source of energy (that mind you is not renewable, but SUSTAINABLE) was "impractical?" Those men and yourself all have the very same goal, power to the people. If you feel like they need that money in order for their extreme ideas to be realized, then why admit you need the same funding? Are you saying then that your invention should speak for and sell-itself? Why has it taken almost ten years then? I assume you filed a patent for this miracle "unlimited" energy contraption.......right? And don't get me wrong, I really do hope you invented the next best thing since sliced bread, you just seem very contradictory in your approach...
Great concept but lets remember that waves and tides are two very different things. Waves are primarily caused by surface wind and as such are a form of wind energy. Tides are caused by the moving gravitational fields of the Moon and to a lesser degree the Sun. Both of these energy sources are truly enormous and unlimited and best of all they are available 24-7.
Yes good! Ocean energy source is the best beacuse it is a stable motion and there is no such thing as zero motion in the sea.
But one thing I can suggest to make Alan Burns project more helpful is by using CO2 as their balloon gas. To keep for a while CO2 from the atmosphere. Maybe CO2 have better effect on balloon pressure stability than using ordinary air.
excellent idea, I can't wait for it to be implemented out here in California. We could certainly use the technology, especially the desalination technique, considering how much of an issue we've been having with droughts as of late.
Anything that can be utilized for energy production, that occurs naturally,and pollution free, should and will be used for energy production in the future... this is the only way we can break our dependence on oil, and as far as I am concerned, the best road to true independence as a nation. I can't wait to drive a total electric car recharged from pollution free energy...does not get any better than that..Kudos, Mr. Burns, please, by all means, feel free to use your money and expertise to make this possible for us all...
Our future is in green energy indeed and this project sounds very promising. If only more corporations were investing in green energy research and development, this world would be a better place.
As with wind power the key measure is what it costs per unit of energy it provides with all costs considered. Wind energy has gone down the route of large horizontal axis machines(HAWT), because they can deliver the best aerodynamic efficiency at typical wind speeds. They have fundamental problems that mean they are unlikely to produce power any cheaper than they now do. Vertical axis machines, though less efficient aerodynamically have the potential to be economically superior because they can be scaled up in two dimensions ( not one as the HAWT )be constructed with cheaper materials, and much easier to maintain.
One aspect of wind generated wave energy production that does not seem to get it's due attention is the angular momentum factor. Anything that has kinetic energy also has momentum and the transfer of both to some device, such as a turbine, is governed by the rule that in collisions, momentum is always conserved. It also is the case that the maximum transfer of momentum ( and therefor kinetic energy ) takes place when the two things in collision have the same inertial properties ( like two pool balls ).This rule applies to angular momentum as well as linear momentum Wind generated waves have angular momentum ( and therefor angular kinetic energy ) and that proportion of the total kinetic energy of the wave grows with the fourth power of the wave height. This explains why larger waves are steeper and the ratio of wave length to wave height gets smaller. It also explains the phenomenon of "tubes" that intrepid surfers admire, and sometimes the withdrawal of the sea before a tsunami strikes. Consequently a wave energy generator hoping to extract as much energy as possible from the waves has to be able to vary it's moment of inertia depending on wave height, and that the motion of the device colliding with the wave needs to have an angular component( rotation about some axis )if it is to absorb the maximum momentum, and thereby kinetic energy from the wave. In the device described it might improve efficiency if the point about which the underwater floats rotated could be altered according to the wave height above.
When did people forget this "green" movement wasn't about getting people's power bills cheaper? It was to help save a little known place called Earth.
Ever since people said you can just 'put solar panels up and get free clean energy' people seem to think this search for sustainable energy means cheap. Well get over it, even if the bill goes UP, I want my kids and their kids to be able to breathe!