Powering Poole by the tide

The Poole Tidal Energy Partnership was first established in 2010-11, with BU’s Dr Zulfiqar Khan as founding co-director. The aim was to produce renewable energy for the local community through an economically sustainable and environmentally sensitive process.

“Poole Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world,” explains Dr Khan. “There is potential for capturing energy from the tide, as well as latent heat within the water. With the right mechanical devices we can transform this form of energy into electricity or heat.”

Dr Khan and his colleagues in BU’s Sustainable Design Research Centre are developing renewable technologies to do just that. And with parts of the Harbour as designated areas of outstanding natural beauty, there is the additional challenge that technology does not invade the scenic beauty of the area.

Dr Khan’s current project is funded by the international development and manufacturing company, Schaeffler, who employ 74,000 people in 180 locations across the world. With their backing, Dr Khan’s is developing nano coatings for the small components of mechanical current turbines.

Nano coating optimises the characteristics of a material, such as hardness or surface roughness, protecting it from wear. Interactive components especially in harsh operating environments are prone to wear and corrosion because of the extensive load applied to them, so nano coatings can increase their life, especially in seawater.

Another project, fully funded by Poole-based Future Energy Source Ltd, examines solar thermal energy technologies, which use solar energy to generate heat.

Dr Khan also recently supervised final year BSc Product Design student, Gareth Hunt who designed a retro-fitted wind turbine that could be fitted to existing lamp-post on the beach, generating enough energy to light the lamp. This was presented in Renewable Technology public engagement event within the BU Festival of Learning in June 2013.

In other projects, supervised by Dr Khan, students designed a range of turbines to go under the water, using tidal energy to generate electricity and heat pump to provide heat to nearby Sterte Court in Poole.

“The dream would be to generate enough energy and heat to meet the demands of the local community,”     explained Dr Khan. “Making the local community in Poole self-sufficient in energy would create a model for the rest of the region, the UK and beyond.”