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PTO Lab Testing, National Physical Laboratory

March 2019

CCell tested a full-scale Power Take-Off unit at the National Physical Laboratory’s state-of-the-art facilities.


At the start of January CCell was awarded an A4i mini-project in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), funded by Innovate UK. The project aimed to understand the heat-flow throughout our Wave Energy Converter’s (WEC) Power Take-Off (PTO) unit, giving us confidence around the survivability of the system. This was made possible by a combination of theoretical modelling as well as accurate measurement on a full-scale PTO submerged in NPL’s Acoustics Pressure Vessel.

This of course meant that CCell must provide a full PTO system, the parts for which are manufactured around the globe. This coincided with us moving office from Paddington to Finsbury Park, meaning that we inevitably ended up with our parts spread across London. Despite the challenges, we managed to bring together the mechanical, electrical and hydraulic components of the system to create a complete and compact system ready for testing.

The PTO is the most complex part of the CCell system, it transforms 2kW of mechanical energy into electrical energy in a very small sealed enclosure. If there are any inefficiencies, heat builds up quickly which can damage the sensitive electrical components. This project allowed us to place thermocouples, accurately calibrated by NPL, in key locations around the device to monitor the temperature during operation.

The tests were performed by CCell’s numerical modelling expert Caitlin during the last week of February. The results were then analysed by both NPL and CCell. They showed that no parts of our system reached a critical temperature and they highlighted some further improvements we could implement to increase the cooling.

All in all it was a successful set of tests that allowed us to have a full-scale working system tested to its limits. We are very grateful to InnovateUK for sponsoring this A4i mini-project and to NPL for partnering with us.

Happy team with PTO ready for testing
Happy team with PTO ready for testing
NPL testing Acoustics facility
NPL testing Acoustics facility
Thermal image of power regulation chip
Thermal image of power regulation chip
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