A busy couple of years – 4cE project round-up

It’s been another incredibly busy and productive couple of years at 4c Engineering; here is a brief round-up of some of the fascinating projects we’ve had the privilege of working on over the last while.

We’re also delighted to welcome Jenny to the team – she’s taking some of our admin/financial tasks, freeing up our engineers to concentrate on the fun stuff!

1. Wave Energy Scotland project with Sea Power Ltd

ACER Project banner
The bulk of our engineering effort over the last couple of years has been spent on this multi-faceted research & development project with Sea Power Ltd.  In mid-2017 we were delighted to be announced as one of only four participants in the 2nd stage of Wave Energy Scotland‘s Novel Wave Energy Convertor (WEC) research programme, with associated funding worth around £660k.  This one is so varied, we actually think of it as a collection of projects, including:

  • Tank testing campaigns at Edinburgh University’s magnificent FloWave test facility, including model design and build, test execution, and interpretation of the reams of resulting test data;
  • Simulation work to characterise the performance of the WEC across a wide range of sea states;
  • Concept engineering of the full scale device;
  • Front end engineering design (FEED) of a large-scale sea-going prototype;
  • Techno-economic modelling to identify the best routes to reducing Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE);
  • All of the associated project management involved in such a complex programme.

You can read all about this project (along with photos/videos) at our case study page here.

2. Torquer HALO – Hands-free Autonomous Load Orientation

“Can you build us a model one?” is always a question we like to hear, especially when followed up with “Now can you build us a working remote control version?”.

Torquer banner 2
Along with various bits of numerical modelling and concept work over the last few years, figuring out how to produce the complex geometry of the Torquer HALO using our 3D printer was a most enjoyable challenge, and resulted in a great little demo unit which tangibly demonstrates the principles of operation of the device.  The full-scale version goes into production this year, with the promise of sharply reducing the health and safety risks inherent to current methods of orientating crane loads (operators with tag lines in close proximity to moving loads).  Take a closer look at our contributions in our case study here.

3. Orrin Equestrian Saddle

One of our more unusual projects, but also one of the most interesting and attention-grabbing:  Orrin Equestrian is breaking away from centuries of traditional horse saddle design to create a new type offering increased comfort for the horse – with long-lasting health (and therefore cost!) benefits.

Orrin Banner
Coming up with a mechanism that adapts as the horse grows and changes shape over time, and allows a degree of flexibility to accommodate the horse’s movements has been a fascinating challenge.  So far we’ve taken it from concept to a full-scale physical mock-up, involving 3D printing and integration of carbon fibre parts into the design.  View the case study here.

4. AWS Waveswing

Following on from previous work designing tank test models for AWS Ocean Energy, we were also part of the team working on the front end engineering design (FEED) of a large-scale demonstrator unit of their Waveswing device.  This project has recently been awarded Wave Energy Scotland funding to proceed with the detailed design, build and testing of the demo unit in 2019/20, so we look forward to seeing it take shape, and its deployment at the EMEC test centre in Orkney.

And the rest…

We’ve also managed to squeeze in a few others along the way:

  • 3D printing parts for a demonstrator of a new easy-use buoy system for marinas;
  • Investigating the technical and economic feasibility of recycling paper in the Falklands;
  • Structural design of a fabricated frame for hydraulic pipe handling equipment;
  • Various bits of additional simulation investigation work for Sea Power;
  • A fascinating mechatronics project (that we can’t really say much about yet) involving building a working desktop demonstrator…

As you can see, we get stuck into a huge range of different types of project – anything where we can apply physics and engineering principles to solve problems, however complex.  So if you have a problem needing solved, or an idea needing developed, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

2 Responses to “A busy couple of years – 4cE project round-up”

  1. Colin Wilson

    Hi Jo, Jane told me to have a look at your Facebook posting, hence I have come to here.
    As you are aware we now have an installed and functioning Air Source Heat Pump and our electricity supply is 100% green ( how they send us the green stuff I am not sure). Consequently I think the work and progress you are making on Wave Power is great. A while ago I heard Bill Gates saying that it is important to look for energy sources that are constant and he then mentioned solar power. Obviously the sum never sets on him.
    I was hoping he was going to mention gravity but no.
    Living now in the flatlands of East Anglia at 0m above sea level has made me more aware of tidal flow and each day I walk the dog along a section of the New Bedford River which, despite being 30 miles inland from Kings Lynn, is tidal. A couple of weeks ago I was with Jane in Wisbech which straddles the River Nene and is also tidal and very confined and with exceptional tidal flow, in and out. I am guessing you know where I am heading but as an island with constant tidal movement powered by that wonderfully free gravity stuff that is not dependant on wind or sun, well actually the tides are reliant on the sun and moon, but you know where I am going and will now shut up.

  2. Jo Wilson

    Hi Colin,

    Yes, there’s plenty of exciting stuff going on in tidal too, and it’s a field we’d love to get involved in. A couple of the furthest developed projects in our neck of the woods are:
    – Orbital Marine Power (formerly Scotrenewables – https://orbitalmarine.com/ ), who have surface floating device with a pair of turbine slung below it;
    – MeyGen ( https://simecatlantis.com/projects/meygen/ ), who have two different makes of turbine mounted on gravity bases on the seabed;
    – Nova Innovation ( https://www.novainnovation.com/ ), have an array of smaller turbines, and an interesting project with Tesla Powerpacks for local battery storage.

    The core technology is probably 5-10 years ahead of wave in terms of development (utility-scale prototypes feeding into the grid), and they are finding ways to beat some of the challenges around location and installation/maintenance (for example, I know that MeyGen had to do directional drilling to route their power export cables, as the tidal flow in the Pentland Firth is so strong that you can’t just lay stuff on the seabed and expect it to be there in the morning!).

    Interestingly, though, from the Wave Energy Scotland conference, it looks like (in Scotland at least) the total generation potential for wave is actually significantly greater that for tidal – if (and it’s still a big if) wave power can bring the cost of energy down sufficiently and overcome the challenges of intermittency/energy storage. This is partly due to the fact that good tidal sites are actually reasonably limited – once the good ones are full, they’re full.

    Definitely room (and the need) for both, along with solar, wind, etc to wean us off fossil fuels…


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