Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism

EPA Grant Number: SU835734
Title: Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism
Investigators: Zuo, Lei
Institution: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2016
Project Amount: $90,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2014) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , 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), so ocean waves offer ready opportunity for harvesting power. However, wave energy harvesting is still in its infancy worldwide. The objective of this project is to develop an innovative technology of ocean wave energy harvesting with advantage of high efficiency and reliability. Different from the state-of-the-arts ocean wave converters, we are going to adopt 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 important, 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 as a practical sustainable renewable energy. In the in phase I project, we have finished the prototyping of 500W wave energy harvester with MMR power take off and verified the working principle. The aim of Phase II is to complete manufacture of the prototype MMR and buoy, and then to test it in an ocean environment. That will be followed by completion of a more thorough dynamical analysis of the system, design of an advanced control, design of power electronics and energy storage, and then integration of the system and demonstration of the improved design. With this proposed project, we hope to foster progress toward sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of economic prosperity, protection of the planet, and improved quality of life for its people –people, prosperity, and the planet – the three goals of the EPA P3 program.

Supplemental Keywords:

ocean wave energy, energy harvesting, alternative energy source, renewable energy

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

P3 Phase I:

Ocean Wave Energy Harvester with a Novel Power Takeoff Mechanism  | Final Report