Rijeka
© Tomislav Pokrajčić

A ground (that is, sea) breaking Croatian innovation arrives in Rijeka

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Written by
Lara Rasin
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'Wave Breaker' sounds like it could be the title of a big-screen action film, or perhaps an amusement park thrill ride. Its real life manifestation, however, is much more riveting: it's a sea barrier made to protect ports and beaches worldwide from gargantuan waves. 

Father-son duo Frano and Tomislav Pokrajčić, founders of Zagreb-based company Jel-Tom, invented the Wave Breaker. It's already raked up a slew of awards, including first place at the second Silicon Valley International Invention Festival in Santa Clara, California and third place at the 47th International Innovation Exhibition in Geneva.

So, how does the Wave Breaker work? The system is comprised of connected airbags floating on the sea surface. Waves hit the airbags, which causes them to break down in size, speed and strength. Since March, testing ohas been actively ongoing near Rijeka's Porto Baroš Marina. The Wave Breaker took 12 hours to install and divers were called upon to help position and secure its two 15-metre segments.

Rijeka
© Tomislav Pokrajčić

Testing in Rijeka will continue for the next six months, in collaboration with the Croatian Hydrographic Institute in Split. The institute is measuring the strength and speed of waves on a daily basis to define how much impact the system can withstand, and how much it can reduce waves.

The Wave Breaker is fitted with solar panels, which enables it to light up at night - a security necessity. In future experiments, it will also be fitted with generators to harness wave energy and convert it into electricity.

Rijeka
© Tomislav Pokrajčić

The final aim is to have a product that can defend ports and beaches while also generating electricity using the power of the sea. Once the Wave Breaker is complete, production will begin. International customers are already contacting the company; especially those from countries which suffer large waves.

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