Making Waves

The School of Physics & Astronomy has made a short film called Breaking Waves to coincide with the opening of the new Flowave tank at the University. 

Theoretical research into the generation of three-dimensional random seas was carried out in the School (then the Department of Physics) in the early 1980s and at about the same time the School also developed new optical techniques for the measurement of complex water waves.

The film explains the fundamentals of how waves are generated in the real sea and reproduced in a wave tank. It also gives a whistle-stop tour of some of the new wave energy devices under development in Scotland including, for example, new footage taken inside Pelamis on the island of Hoy in Orkney.

Breaking Waves will first be shown in Satrosphere Science Centre in Aberdeen during the summer. For more details contact c.a.greated [at] (Clive Greated).


The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility is a world-unique facility for testing and de-risking marine energy technologies and projects.

The tank and equipment

The heart of FloWave is a 30m circular concrete basin containing the 25m diameter wave and current tank. The 5m deep tank contains 2.4 million litres of fresh water and is circumferentially ringed by 168 absorbing wave makers. Additionally, twenty-eight submerged flow-drive units can simultaneously and independently drive current across the tank in any relative direction, with maximum current velocities of 1.6 metres per second. A rising tank floor and overhead crane enable quick and easy installation of individual devices, or arrays of wave or tidal current generators.