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Dublin Student's Research into Designing Fins to Draw on Wave Energy Comes Second Place in Category at BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

15th January 2022
Fionnán Ó Baoill (13) built a wave energy tank out of containers in his back garden to test out his theory that fin design could influence optimum use of energy generated by the sea
Fionnán Ó Baoill (13) built a wave energy tank out of containers in his back garden to test out his theory that fin design could influence optimum use of energy generated by the sea

A Dublin student whose love of sailing inspired him to research wave energy has won second prize in his category at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Fionnán Ó Baoill (13) built a wave energy tank out of containers in his back garden to test out his theory that fin design could influence optimum use of energy generated by the sea.

“I took up sailing in Dun Laoghaire a few summers ago, and that is when I started to think about it,” O Baoill told Afloat.

“I used the Open SCAD software to model the boats, and then three-D printed them out,” he explained.

“The fins under the hull catch the energy to propel the boat and contribute to fuel savings when on engine,” he said.

“When I was researching it, I discovered it had been thought about 100 years ago for personal use, and several companies also experimented with the concept,” he said.

“ However, they didn’t take it to a widespread commercial level,” he said.

“Science is my passion, and I love sailing,” Ó Baill who is homeschooled, said.

Ó Baoill was highly commended at last year’s BT Young Scientist exhibition for his project on optimisation of yeast production.

His mother, Orna Collins, said the family was delighted to hear Fionnan’s name being announced during the closing ceremony.

Dublin students Aditya Joshi and Aditya Kumar of Synge Street CBS were declared this year’s BT Young Scientists.

Their winning project focused on a new method of solving the Bernoulli Quadrisection problem.

Climate change awareness and the importance of sustainability in their lives were dominant themes at this year’s exhibition, according to the organisers.

Projects looking towards developing more sustainable practices, promoting biodiversity within the community and the use of environmentally friendly alternatives to household products were among the entries.

“Row-tricity" was the title of an entry by Ardscoil Rís in Limerick, designing and developing a device to capture the potential energy of an ergometer (rowing machine).The students also presented a case study to examine if it could power a rowing club.

“Is hydrogen power usage within transport part of the solution for the current global climate crisis?” was the title of a project submitted by St Kieran's College, Kilkenny

It explored the feasibility for broad scale use of hydrogen as a means to supplement wind and solar power, providing renewable global energy needs.

Mohill Community College in Leitrim researched how wind turbine blades could be made more eco friendly and cost-efficient, without using fibreglass or any other toxic material.

A team from Loreto College, Dublin explored how to tackle the “jellyfish crisis”, exploring reasons for increased jellyfish numbers in Irish waters.

Loreto Convent in Donegal submitted an entry on microplastics in water and fish guts, while Mary Immaculate secondary school in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, investigated the level of microplastics on a number of beaches in the west of Ireland.

Research into whether pond algae and seaweed could be used as a substitute for non-biodegradable materials or plastic was carried out by a team from Mercy Secondary School, Co Kerry.

The full list of results of the contest are here

Published in Marine Science
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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