Power Electronics

STAC awards $200K to Electro Standards in Collaboration with URI for Development of Direct-Drive Wave Energy Conversion Devices

STAC awards $200K to Electro Standards in Collaboration with University of Rhode Island for Development of Direct-Drive Wave Energy Conversion Devices.

Electro Standards Laboratories (ESL), in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island (URI), Department of Ocean Engineering, under the Center of Excellence in Undersea Technology, has been awarded a $200K Rhode Island Collaborative Research Grant from the Rhode Island Science and Technology Council (STAC) to further the development of renewable energy direct-drive wave energy conversion devices to power autonomous coastal buoys.

The work continues the development of commercial devices that can power such systems by converting mechanical wave energy to electrical energy using electrical generators housed in spar-based buoys. The project will focus on developing a renewable energy source for a free floating buoy that can be used to power coastal surveillance systems, emergency beacons, or other devices that can be connected to the buoy structure. This will be accomplished by integrating electrical generators with a customized spar buoy design and with the design of a novel generator control and energy storage system. This design approach promises to have few moving parts, be functional in a wide range of ocean sea state conditions, and be inexpensive to manufacture. The performance of the system will be validated by numerical simulations and tests in URI's wave tank. Based on these tests, a prototype system will be designed and undergo extensive field testing in Narragansett Bay.

The technology is directly usable for emergency beacons for all commercial and recreational watercraft, and for offshore rig-monitoring buoys in the oil industry. Longer term development would target scaling up the technology to provide an inexhaustible source of renewable electrical energy for powering larger systems.

Scientists at Electro Standards Laboratories in Cranston, Rhode Island and in the Ocean Engineering Department at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island have combined expertise in marine hydrodynamics, electrical generators, advanced controls and dynamics. ESL and URI have worked collaboratively to improve the design and performance of wave energy harvesting devices, including a successful Phase I SBIR project that showed the feasibility of using the technology to power specific types of Navy sensing and communications buoys.

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