Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


The Marine Technology Making Waves in Wales and Beyond


Written By:

Dr Akash Gupta

Research Officer

MADE Cymru

With marine energy viewed as a key pathway to a decarbonised economy, it’s highly encouraging to know that Wales enjoys both an abundance of the natural resource needed – water – and the ingenuity of enterprises at the very forefront of transforming that valuable resource into renewable energy.

Bombora is one such enterprise, working hard to put Wales on the map for marine energy through the pioneering mWave™ product that produces environmentally friendly, consistent and cost-competitive energy for commercial power generation, in coastal locations throughout the world.

A powerful meeting of minds, putting Wales on the map for marine energy

Bombora’s appetite for innovation is currently focused on a €20 million project to design, fabricate and test the first 1.5 MW mWave™ prototype in Wales – a project that’s part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (through Welsh Government), enjoying expert collaboration with Research Officers from the MADE Cymru project at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, who are working closely with Bombora to develop and test a key component for this game-changing technology.

This team is working to rationalise the manufacturing method and reduce the manufacturing costs – as well as identifying opportunities to manufacture the improved component here in Wales. It’s proving to be a powerful meeting of minds: combining the in-depth industry knowledge of Bombora, with the world-class research ability and advanced technology of the Advanced Design Engineering (ADE) team at MADE Cymru – a fusion of talent that will undoubtedly deliver positive product development for future component Manufacturing.

An excellent example of how sectors are collaborating to achieve net zero

Sam Leighton, Managing Director of Bombora says:

“Our research project with MADE Cymru is an excellent example of how sectors are collaborating to achieve net zero.”

“By bringing together innovative technology developers and experts from academia, the research not only supports Wales’ transition to a low carbon future; it also strengthens the country’s position as a global frontrunner in wave energy generation.”

The technological challenge being undertaken has brought together the finest minds for good reason. The mWave device is made up of multiple air-filled cell modules, with each module enclosed by a flexible membrane aligned for optimum performance to the incoming waves. The pressure differential produced from a wave crest and trough causes the alternating compression and decompression of the membrane, forcing air from inside the cell into a duct to drive a turbine – generating a sustainable source of electricity. The novelty of the mWave system lies in the flexible membrane, which requires large specialist tooling and equipment – which is where the MADE Cymru team stepped in, working with Bombora to research potential alternative materials as part of the on-going product design development.

Strengthening Wales’ position as a global frontrunner in wave energy generation

This focus on finding new materials with equivalent design criteria that reduces the costs of handling and fitment has seen MADE Cymru employ a suite of Industry 4.0 advanced design and manufacturing capabilities, working in conjunction with several in-house software applications for preliminary research and development. Amongst this comprehensive list was GRANTA, a software package for intelligent material selection. The material dataset covers thousands of individual material standards, specifications, suppliers and grades – enabling the right material choices to be made during the early product development stage, delivering complete confidence in the early findings and allowing the team to rapidly generate new ideas through systematic and chronological search.

It’s a tremendous method that’s now proven and ready for further applications – able to give an authoritative report on the carbon footprint and environmental impact of any future projects, giving SMEs an incredibly valuable opportunity to demonstrate the sustainability of their project when applying for grants and funding.

Enabling SMEs to demonstrate the sustainability of their project when applying for grants and funding

MADE Cymru’s Advanced Design Engineering (ADE) capability is making a critical contribution to several other projects where the aim is to convert existing factories into smart factories through automation, additive-manufacturing, advanced design in techniques and through employment of cutting-edge research. The team aims to help businesses bring manufacturability in-house or within Wales – improving and enhancing current processes and products through the logistics of Industry 4.0, future-proofing industries and bringing sustainable economic benefits to the country as a whole. A team and technology that’s sure to be making positive waves in Wales and beyond for years to come.

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