Importance of Natural Resources

Unlocking the power of AM for renewable applications

My name is Ryan Church, I am the founder & CEO
of Biome Renewables. Biome is a biologically inspired engineering and design startup, based
here in Toronto. We’re focused on the power cone technology, primarily in wind and tide
energy. The power cone technology is our flag ship
technology that we’re bringing to market. It’s an aerodynamic and hydrodynamic retrofit
technology for wind and tidal turbines. When we first started to think about how we
wanted to prototype our tidal power cone technology, we reached out to the Nova Scotia Community
College, which have a Renishaw additive manufacturing 3D metal printer, and working with them, we
realized quickly that we could make a tidal turbine very cost effectively and very quickly,
and get it into the ocean. My name is Neil Laamanen, and I am the project
coordinator for applied research at the Nova Scotia Community College. NSCC Applied Research
works with industry to find solutions to the real-world challenges. When companies need
products manufactured, the team relies on my expertise and the suitable manufacturing technologies
founded in the design centre. When Neil first approached us for technical
support, we knew right away this would be a great project to work with Biome renewables.
NSCC was the first college in Canada to have a metal printer, and it was great to see them
producing parts like this, even on an older machine.
Biome renewables approached us to build two versions of an underwater turbine prototype.
Their goal is to apply innovative wind technology to tidal. We used the Renishaw 3D metal printer
to meet a tight timeline to get the prototypes built in time to be shipped to Ireland for
testing. When the project grew from not just one turbine,
but two turbines, in order to meet the project timeline, we decided to split the work between
us, with NSCC producing some of the components, and Renishaw Solutions Centre producing some
of the components here. This let Neil focus on the final machining and assembly of the
parts ready for testing in Ireland. 3D printing for us it helps us get the
prototypes in the water, so we can get data faster. The power cone geometry is also a
very unique and complex curved geometry, which actually blends itself very well to 3D printing.
When we look at the financial implication of using 3D metal printing, we realized there
was about an 80% cost saving alone and going this route, just through time, materials,
and getting it to market. If we would have gone the old-fashioned way, we should be making
a mold and casting our product, we would have not been in the water by now, we would have
still be making it. So, 3D metal printing really gives you that advantage above time
and cost. The power cone’s deployment in a tidal environment
is the first known use of 3D metal printing in the world, so, we’re very happy to be
pioneers in this aspect. This complex international project involving
Biome renewables, NSCC, Queens University and Renishaw Canada really shows the power
of collaboration.

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