Nav: Home

Wave energy researchers dive deep to advance clean energy source

October 13, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- One of the biggest untapped clean energy sources on the planet -- wave energy -- could one day power millions of homes across the U.S. But more than a century after the first tests of the power of ocean waves, it is still one of the hardest energy sources to capture.

Now, engineers at Sandia National Laboratories are conducting the largest model-scale wave energy testing of its kind to improve the performance of wave-energy converters (WECs). The project is taking place at the U.S. Navy's Maneuvering and Sea Keeping facility at the Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland, one of the largest wave tanks in the world at 360 feet long and 240 feet wide and able to hold 12 million gallons of water.

Sandia project leads Ryan Coe and Giorgio Bacelli spend long days in the dark wave tank, where minimal lighting reduces the growth of algae in the water. They are collecting data from their numerical modeling and experimental research to benefit wave energy technology with improved methodologies, strategic control systems design and testing practices for wave energy converters.

"Our goal is to improve the economic viability of these devices," said Coe. "In order to do so, we are working out ways to control the WEC's generator to increase the amount of power it absorbs. At the same time, we are looking at how to reduce the loads and stresses on these devices in harsh conditions to ultimately lengthen a WEC's lifespan in the water."

Coe said numerous initial studies estimate that improving control of the WECs' generators can dramatically increase energy absorption by as much as 300 percent. Transitioning these simplified studies to more realistic large-scale devices is the challenge at hand.

To control the dynamics for better, faster results in the wave tank, Coe and Bacelli are using modeling and control methods that have been successful in other industries, such as in the aerospace industry.

"The systems we used have been around for a while, but strangely enough they had never been applied to wave energy converters," Bacelli said. "So far, we know the techniques we are using are more efficient and cost-effective than existing methods. We are getting more information in a fraction of the time."

Now that Sandia has completed the first round of analyses in the water, Coe said the goal is to process all the collected data to develop a new, enhanced model that will make sure the next test yields even more valuable results.

"Make no mistake, these are extremely complex machines," Bacelli said. "They have to be fine-tuned continuously because ocean waves are constantly changing. With this setup at the Navy's facility, we have a unique opportunity to study the problems and quantify the effects. We want to help the industry by offering solutions to the challenges the wave energy world is facing."

Sandia's continuing wave energy project, Advanced WEC Dynamics and Controls, kicked off in 2013 and is funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Innovations from Sandia's Water Power Technologies Program advance our nation's energy security by making renewable energy more economically feasible. Contributions include WEC-Sim, an open source code for modelling the performance of wave energy converters, extreme-conditions modeling and tidal and turbine modeling. Sandia researchers serve as advisers and judges for the Department of Energy's Wave Energy Prize competition.
-end-
Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Sandia news media contact: Rebecca Brock, rabrock@sandia.gov, (505) 844-7772

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

Related Wave Energy Articles:

A wave's 'sweet spot' revealed
For surfers, finding the 'sweet spot,' the most powerful part of the wave, is part of the thrill and the challenge.
Looking at complex light wave forms
Using a new method, researchers can see for the first time how weak electric fields evolve in time.
Wave energy researchers dive deep to advance clean energy source
One of the biggest untapped clean energy sources on the planet -- wave energy -- could one day power millions of homes across the US.
New breed of optical soliton wave discovered
Sharks and minnows: Scientists discover an optical soliton wave that rides with and feeds off of other soliton waves, much like a pilot fish with a shark.
How much can a mode-2 wave move?
For the first time, two mathematicians at Canada's University of Waterloo have created a 3-D simulation of the mass transport capabilities of mode-2 waves.
MIT Energy Initiative welcomes Exelon as member for clean energy research
MIT Energy Initiative announces that national energy provider Exelon joins MITEI as a member to focus research support through MITEI's Low-Carbon Energy Centers.
Determinant factors for energy consumption and perception of energy conservation clarified
Change in lifestyle is a key component to realizing a low-carbon society.
Evidence shows low energy sweeteners help reduce energy intake and body weight
Use of low energy sweeteners (LES) in place of sugar, in children and adults, leads to reduced calorie intake and body weight - and possibly also when comparing LES beverages to water -- according to a review led by researchers at the University of Bristol published in the International Journal of Obesity today.
The new wave in wireless communication
UCSB researchers take aim at the potential bottleneck created by the flood of shared multimedia content on wireless networks.
ASU professor honored for work on energy and social aspects of energy policy
Martin 'Mike' Pasqualetti, an Arizona State University professor and an expert on energy and social components of energy development, will be awarded 2015 Alexander and Ilse Melamid Memorial Medal by the American Geographical Society.

Related Wave Energy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...