Harnessing Energy from the Ocean

Written by on March 7, 2014 in Technology

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a ‘carpet’ that will convert waves into usable energy.

Screenshot from UC Berkeley research team's project video.

Screenshot from UC Berkeley research team’s project video.

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?

Can We Harness Ocean Waves to Power Your Home? from Experiment on Vimeo.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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