AFA team closer to harnessing energy from ocean waves

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Air Force Academy researchers have taken a major step toward being able to convert ocean waves into energy that can be used for electric power.

They’ve managed to harness nearly all of the energy from a simulated ocean wave, which is a step closer to creating free-floating, fully submerged wave energy converters in the open sea.

The research is part of a National Science Foundation-funded project and  was the first demonstration of the efficiency of the cyclodial wave energy conversion, said Dr. Stefan Siegel, who is leading the research effort.

The Department of Aeronautics has been working on the project for nearly three years. The latest tests are experimental confirmation of the computational simulations which began the project.

Academy researchers have harnessed 99 percent of the energy in a simulated ocean wave and are preparing to take their emerging technology to the next level.

“We had actually better than 99 percent wave cancellation and efficiency in those simulations,” Siegel said. “There’s pretty good reason to believe that when we scale up the experiment, it will behave in a similar fashion.”

The current three-year NSF grant runs through September, and another federal agency is providing $400,000 of follow-on funding to take the wave energy converter to the next level.

Click here to read past Business Journal coverage of Air Force Academy technological research and advances.