Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a ‘carpet’ that will convert waves into usable energy.
The Wave Carpet will sit on the seafloor, mimicking the natural muddy bottom, which is known to dampen the energy of surface waves. The carpet is composed of a sheet of rubber (to be replaced with a more durable material in the future) that sits on top of a grid of hydraulic pumps. As the rubber carpet moves up and down with the waves, it pumps the cylinders, creating hydraulic pressure that gets converted into power.
One of the major benefits of the wave carpet compared to other sources of ocean power “is that it operates completely submerged,” graduate researcher Marcus Lehmann explained to MST in an email. It “causes no hazard for mammal entanglement, ships on the surface or swimmers.” And because it’s completely submerged, it isn’t vulnerable to storms and wouldn’t disrupt anyone’s view.
Plus, “the percentage of coastline that is open and used by the public for recreational activities is in the order of a single-digit,” Lehmann said, so there’s no worry that the wave carpets will interfere with beachgoers.
It’s also extremely efficient and more readily available than tidal power. Wave power is “available at most of the west coasts worldwide” and the energy that can be generated from a 10 meter wave carpet is larger than the amount of energy generated from an entire soccer field covered in solar panels. If designed carefully, the wave carpet could provide power to two households.
Laboratory tests have been very successful and now the team is raising money to develop the first pilot plant in the ocean. Their crowdfunding campaign closes this weekend so if you’re interested in supporting the project, now is the time! Watch the video below to learn more and be sure to check out the project page here: Can we solve future energy and freshwater crises with the Power of Ocean Waves?
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