Atargis Energy Corp. became the first company to produce electric power from the energy of ocean waves by using a specific energy conversion machine developed in Colorado Springs.
The company’s model, one-tenth the size of the planned machine, was tested in a large offshore wave basin facility at Texas A&M, and delivered 370 watts of electric power form the incoming wave.
It marks a big step forward for Atargis, which started as a research project at the Air Force Academy’s laboratory. In the lab, tests showed that the cycloidal wave energy converter can capture 95 percent of energy from an ocean wave.
The tests were supported by the Department of Energy and private investors and advanced the technology readiness level of the new wave energy converter. The company expects improved performance as it creates prototypes similar to full ocean scale.
Atargis will now use the data gathered in the test to design a full-scale ocean-going prototype that will have a design power of 5 megawatts, enough to power more than 3,000 homes. The design will be scaled down for one more round of wave basin tests in 2013, followed by the first ocean prototype – at one-fourth the size – to be tested in 2014.
The Artargis model is different than other wave-energy converters tried in the past. Instead of sitting on top of the wave, it’s fully submerged. That makes it capable of withstanding ocean storms, and of crating more energy, said Dr. Stefan Siegel, creator of the wave energy machine.
He plans to use the information gathered in the experiment to increase performance and to decrease construction costs.