Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism

EPA Grant Number: SU835532
Title: Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism
Investigators: Zuo, Lei
Current Investigators: Zuo, Lei , Ai, Junxiao , Chang, Risa , Lee, Hwan , Liang, Changwei
Institution: The State University of New York at Stony Brook
EPA Project Officer: Levinson, Barbara
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


With the shortage of global energy, it’s highly necessary to exploit alternative renewable energy sources beyond fossil oil, nuclear, solar and wind energy. Oceans, fantastic places gave birth to all creatures in this world, are now offering us another vast but untapped treasure—ocean wave energy. The potential for electricity generation from ocean wave energy in the US is estimated to be 64% of the total electricity generated from all sources in 2010. Over 53% of the US population lives within 50 miles of the coast (NOAA). This project is to develop an innovative technology of ocean wave energy harvesting with advantages of high efficiency, reliability and compactness.  Different from the state-of-the-arts ocean wave converters, we are going to create an innovative power takeoff mechanism named mechanical motion rectifier (MMR), which will directly convert the irregular oscillatory wave motion into regular unidirectional rotation of the generator. It marries the advantages of the direct and indirect-drive power takeoff methods, with a much higher energy conversion efficiency and enhanced reliability and compactness. What’s more, this novel power takeoff design can be easily applied to most kinds of wave energy converters (WEC) which are already exist or under construction. Therefore, if our design is widely adopted, the efficiency of today’s WEC will be greatly improved, which will pave a sustainable pathway of making ocean wave resources a practical sustainable renewable energy.


In this proposed project, our device aims at taking fully use of the wave motions. It consists of a buoy, a heave plate, and a MMR-based power takeoff system between them. All the components of power takeoff, energy storage, power electronics and control are contained in the buoy which will float together with wave. By creatively designing the mechanical motion rectifier (MMR) and synergically integrating a flywheel into the power takeoff mechanism, we convert the irregular and oscillatory wave motion into regular unidirectional motion with steady speed. DC-DC power management will be used to regulate the voltage and current, achieving vibration control and energy storage. Specific tasks involve mechanical design, hydrodynamics modeling and analysis, power electronic design, prototyping, and tests.

Expected Results:

In phase I of this project, we will develop and demonstrate a functional prototype of 200-500W ocean wave energy generator with the innovative mechanical motion rectifier and integrated flywheel. The energy converting efficiency and reliability of MMR-based power takeoff will be evaluated through both modeling and lab tests, and feasibility will be demonstrated through in-field test on the southern coast of Long Island, near the shore. In the phase II, a pilot ocean wave energy generator of 1 KW-10KW will be developed and optimized, and we will also design and implement real-time control and grid interface power electronics.  In addition, we will extend the energy harvesting capacity of vertical ocean wave motions into both vertical and horizontal by designing a two-dimensional mechanical motion rectifier to maximize the energy harvesting efficiency. Both graduate and undergraduate students of multiple departments will get hands-on experiences in this P3 project.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

renewable energy, ocean wave energy harvesting, mechanical motion rectifier;

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

Final Report

P3 Phase II:

Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism