Underwater energy storage system research featured on Daily Planet

One of the challenges in developing wind power is how to store energy generated during off-peak hours. A UWindsor engineering professor’s research into a unique solution will be the focus of a lead segment on tonight’s edition of Daily Planet on the Discovery Channel.

A six-minute segment during the Inventor’s Column portion of the show will highlight a system being tested by Rupp Carriveau, an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering; it was developed by representatives from Hydrostor, his Toronto-based industry partner.

“It’s one of our lead pieces, so we’re really excited about it,” said Noah Zatzman, a publicist for Discovery, who noted that it will also be promoted during CTV’s national newscast when hosts discuss what viewers can expect to see when they tune in to the show.

A production crew from the show spent about 13 hours on a barge in late September with Dr. Carriveau and Hydrostor president Cam Lewis obtaining footage of the installation of a full-scale model of the underwater energy storage system.

In that system, energy generated by turbines that spin when electricity isn’t in demand would be converted into compressed air and stored in large marine salvage bags moored to the bottom of the lake. When that energy is required, the compressed air would be released to the surface through hoses, regenerated back into electricity for sale to the power grid.

Carriveau and his team were brought in to test the feasibility of the system. Earlier this year, they tested small-scale model of it in the St. Denis Centre swimming pool before testing a full-sized model of it in September in Lake Ontario just off the Leslie Spit in Toronto’s east end.

The television crew consisted of a producer, a sound engineer, and a trained diver who obtained underwater shots of the system as it was being installed.

“You should see the footage he got,” said Carriveau. “It’s unreal.”

Shelley Ayres, a Discovery employee who produced the piece, said it really reflects the difficulties that inventors and researchers often face when testing complex systems such as this one.

“The piece is essentially a snapshot of that day and the challenges they faced,” she said.

Daily Planet airs on the Discovery Channel (35 on Cogeco cable, 520 on Bell Satellite) weekdays at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. The episode will also be available for viewing on the show’s Web site tomorrow.