CCell Renewables and Vicor Collaborate to Power New Coral Reef Growth

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CCell Renewables is a marine engineering sciences company with a mission to combat coastal erosion

CCell Renewables and Vicor have collaborated to power new coral reef growth. Vicor had recommended its factorized power architecture (FPA) when the power delivery network had face a widely varying input-voltage specification.

“Using Vicor’s FPA we now have a high-performing design that we believe is going to make enormous improvements to ecosystems and communities across the entire planet,” said Will Bateman, CEO at CCell.

Widely varying output voltages

The CCell reef-growing system is based on the electrolysis of seawater to deposit calcium carbonate (limestone) on large steel frames which function as anodes and cathodes (electrodes) and to give the new reef its early structure. The technique is revolutionary in that instead of hundreds of years, it takes just five years to produce incredibly strong limestone rock on which coral can grow. CCell also uses renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and wave energy to power the reef-growing systems.

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All of these renewable power sources have widely varying output voltages due to environmental conditions, a major problem for the electrolysis process. The limestone structure on which coral grows must be grown at an optimum rate, without impurities and with a strong molecular structure. The electrolysis process must be precise: too slow and nothing will grow, too fast and the limestone will not be tenable. The power delivery network must therefore be able to operate over wide- ranging and challenging conditions with a high degree of control and accuracy.

The Power Delivery Network Faced with a widely varying input-voltage specification and the need to tightly regulate the potential difference (electric field) between the electrodes within a ‘goldilocks zone’ of 1.2 – 4V to drive aprecisely calculated current through seawater, Vicor recommended its Factorized PowerArchitecture or FPA.

By factorizing the DC-DC function into two modules, a PRM regulator and a VTM current multiplier, the power delivery network can be optimized for regulation and conversion. The PRM buck-boost regulator operates over a wide input voltage range and has a zero-voltage
switching (ZVS) topology, delivering very high efficiency and power density. In addition, PRMs are easily paralleled for higher power. The VTM is a fixed-ratio (non-regulating) resonant converter with high current density. Working seamlessly together, the PRM tightly regulates the voltage required for the reef and the VTM handles the down conversion and current delivery to the electrodes.

CCell Renewables is a marine engineering sciences company with a mission to combat coastal erosion and enhance marine ecosystems by restoring and growing new coral reefs on a large scale. It is currently preparing to create a new reef in Mexico that will be 200m in length.

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