Water and electricity don't often go together, but PhD student Damon Howe has spent the last four years finding a way to make them work together.
The Australian Maritime College student is hoping to make his mark on climate change by studying a wave energy converter at the model test basin.
An ocean engineering graduate, Mr Howe and his research colleagues have designed and built a breakwater wave converter device, capability of harnessing the power of the waves and converting it into energy.
The fluorescent yellow breakwater model has been subject to barrages of waves, conducted by the model test basin's wave-maker paddles, to test how the structure responds to marine environments.
Mr Howe shared his story and research for The Examiner's Under the Surface investigative series.
"We started looking at wave energy converters in isolation, to get an idea of how the devices operated," he said.
"Then we introduced a breakwater, like you would see at Bridport or similar, a stationary seabed and we found we were able to double the power production."
Mr Howe said it was the facilities, along with a desire to do practical work, that led him to study at the AMC, after growing up on the North-West Coast at Shearwater.
"I probably would have been a builder otherwise," he said.
He said he hoped to provide an alternative to power generation and help address climate change.
However, it will also provide more certainty for industries like aquaculture, which is looking to move offshore.
"What we're trying to do is to couple two important structures together, to provide offshore storage and the potential for power generation," he said.
"We are hoping to try and integrate wave energy devices into other marine structures such as breakwaters and harbours."
Mr Howe has been researching tidal and wave technology for the past four years and is using the model test basin to test different wave environments out on the structure.
The model test basin at the AMC is unique in its ability to create different wave scenarios - it has 16 wave panels at one end of the basin and controlled by a central computer.
Wave scenarios, to simulate the real world environment, can be input into the computer so data can be recorded.
While it might seem simple to some, Mr Howe said the model test basin at the AMC was one-of-a-kind.
"I have been helping out another student on a research trip, where he was tasked to find a similar basin somewhere else in the world," he said.
What they found, as part of the research, was that Tasmania is home to a model test basin that has the capacity to record large wave scenarios.
"We found one in Northern Ireland that was similar, but it still couldn't replicate the height of the waves we can here," Mr Howe said.
He said one of the ways the model test basin was unique was in its ability to replicate focused waves on a model, to simulate waves that build on one other.
"So then, we're looking at the survival capability of the model," he said.
Being able to test a model's survival in the model test basin, as well as how it held up to other wave scenarios was invaluable research.
The model test basin attracts international attention, with some researchers at the facility moving to Tasmania just because of the facility. It is also used for commercial purposes, such as port design.
Mr Howe said Tasmanians should be proud that the AMC is based here because of the breadth of facilities on offer.
"For undergrads, myself I came through here as an undergraduate, and a lot of the units incorporate not only this facility but all of the facilities. We get the opportunity to explore it."
"All of the facilities, not just the model test basin, are all in such close proximity, it should attract people."
- The next instalment of Under the Surface will show how education at the AMC will be transformed by the defence precinct.