The US Energy Department has granted $7.4m for four entities to spur innovation of next-generation water power component technologies, designed for manufacturability and built specifically for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) systems.
The projects will address technical challenges in three areas: advanced controls, crosscutting power take-off (PTO) — which converts mechanical motion into electrical power — and innovative structures. Waves, tides, and ocean currents represent a largely untapped renewable energy resource that could provide clean, affordable energy to U.S. homes and businesses across the country. Advancements in MHK technologies will help these devices effectively and sustainably harness increased amounts of renewable energy from marine environments.
Through this funding opportunity, the selected projects will help improve the performance and reduce the cost of MHK technologies. Research and development supported by this funding will advance the market-readiness of MHK systems through the continued development and use of innovative components for wave and tidal energy devices.
The full list of selected marine and hydrokinetic system performance advancement projects follows:
Re Vision Consulting, LLC, in Sacramento, California, in collaboration with Ocean Energy USA, Resolute Marine Energy, CalWave, Dresser-Rand, Navigant Consulting, and University of Michigan, will develop an optimal control system that predicts ocean conditions and adjusts device settings accordingly to optimize power production for three different wave energy converter (WEC) devices: (1) the OE buoy developed by Ocean Energy USA, (2) the Surge WEC device developed by Resolute Marine Energy, and (3) the Wave Carpet developed at CalWave (UC Berkeley). Device performance improvements will be validated through wave-tank testing and one final full-scale test.
Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Virginia, in collaboration with Resolute Marine Energy, Energy Harvesting Technology, LLC, THK America, Inc., and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will develop and test a novel mechanical solution for converting from alternating current to direct current power. The technology transforms the back-and-forth wave movement into a single-directional movement to more efficiently capture wave energy. In combination with unique power electronics, the new PTO will improve energy conversion efficiency and the reliability of ocean wave-energy harvesting.
Dehlsen Associates, LLC, in Santa Barbara, California, in collaboration with Helios Engineering, Wedge Global, Oregon State University, Time-Variable Systems, LLC, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will develop a linear generator capable of supplying a WEC device with power to implement advanced controls. The device’s water power capture can then be optimized by actively controlling the timing between the force and velocity on the WEC device.
Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Verdant Power, will develop a low-cost, single-piece, three-blade composite turbine with integrated "health management" technology. The integrated health management system will use diagnostic and predictive technologies to evaluate the health of mechanical and electrical systems during operation and warn of component or system faults before failure occurs.