March 11, 2019
About $23 million in seed money is being spread around by the US Department of Energy for the next generation of marine energy devices, and among the recipients are researchers at Texas A&M University who are studying the probability of turning ocean waves into a source for clean energy.
Those scientists are in the early stages of developing the idea, and the DOE grants will be useful for developing and testing the prototype for the energy-gathering device on a small scale soon.
A&M Department of Ocean Engineering‘s Research Assistant Professor Dr. HeonYong Kang first began working on this idea in 2015, the genesis of the project itself a result of the DOE’s Wave Energy Prize Competition.
Along with a cooperative team, he’s developing a device to ride an ocean’s surface, a Surface Riding Wave Energy Converter. (SR-WEC).
The initial project is expected to lead to the generation of clean ocean energy for commercial sectors.
Then would come large-scale integration into a large-scale grid, but the first step is to supply maritime markets with the devices.
“In this project, we develop and test the SR-WEC in a form of scaled prototype, which can eventually supply electricity to various maritime markets at a competitive cost,” said Kang.
“The maritime markets to benefit from this technology include ocean observation and navigation, underwater vehicle charging, desalination, marine aquaculture, marine algal biofuels, seawater mining, offshore data center, disaster resiliency and recovery, and isolated power systems.”
The latest DOE grant will help to further develop and test the prototype and prepare it for open-sea testing by the end of the project in 2022, according to Newswise.
But the project still faces limitations, first because funding is limited for such an ambitious project and because it’s still early in the development stages, so creation of a prototype that can directly convert the wave energy into directed energy is still being worked out.
Kang said the project’s development includes technical work and searching for contacts, “fabricating the scaled prototype out of limited suppliers and building connections in the industry, to educating the public of the SR-WEC and its potential impact on society.”
“I am most excited to unlock the renewable ocean wave energy and eventually resolve energy challenges in the various maritime markets,” Kang said.