Definitely not coming to water park near you is a FloWave, a state-of-the-art wave pool that whips water around, creating waves as tall as nine-story buildings and currents four times as fast as Michael Phelps. FloWave is a real ocean simulator, you see, and its job is to prepare our infrastructure for the violent battering of the seas.
Where some people see destructiveness, others see opportunity. The constant movement of ocean water can be harnessed as tidal power, one of the latest ideas in renewable energy. But if you're putting multimillion pound equipment into the ocean, you want to make sure it doesn't fall apart like LEGO pieces in turbulent waters. Manufacturers of offshore wind turbines have, for example, had to learn the hard way, as ocean turbulence cause vibrations that caused debilitating wear and tear.
Enter the 82-foot diameter wave pool at the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, which just opened last month at the University of Edinburgh. FloWave will let engineers easily test their new wave turbines for tidal power in a controlled facility—without having to install anything in the ocean.
Unlike most wave pools used to test ships or drilling platforms, FloWave is a circle rather than a rectangle. Waves can come in any direction rather than just one. While FloWave is certainly powerful when making big waves, its key attribute is flexibility. FloWave is built at 1/20th scale, allowing it to simulate full ocean conditions within its 82-foot diameter pool. By tinkering with a few inputs, engineers can simulate the conditions of any point along the coast of Britain. It's an entire ocean in a pool. [Nautilus, BBC]