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Aquatic power generator takes to the sea

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LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- An aquatic system likened to a bicycle pump is set to take to the seas and turn wave power into clean electricity, a British company says.

The system's inventor says the Searaser system, unlike other wave power technologies, does not generate the electricity in the hostile environment of the ocean but rather pumps saltwater to an onshore generator.

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"If you put any device in the sea, it will get engulfed in storms, so it all has to be totally sealed," Alvin Smith told The Guardian newspaper. "Water and electricity don't mix -- and sea water is particularly corrosive -- so most other devices are very expensive to manufacture and maintain."

The Searaser system, acquired by green energy company Ecotricity, has been tested in prototype form, the company said. It uses the rise and fall of a large float to pressurize water, and then sends pressurized sea water onshore to drive an electrical generator.

Ecotricity says "it is not over-ambitious" to expect 200 Searaser devices to be installed at depths of 60 to 100 feet around Britain within five years -- generating enough renewable electricity to power 236,000 homes.

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