Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Renewable Energy: Wave Farms

What you see above is a rendering of a proposed wave farm. This is an interesting approach to generating renewable energy from the oceans waves. Wave power put to the test in California
American research firm SRI International and Japan's Hyper Drive Corporation today are testing the latest generation of their jointly developed buoy-mounted, ocean wave-powered generator off the coast of Santa Cruz, Calif. As the generator bobs up and down, an accordion-like device inside, made of artificial muscle called Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscle (EPAM), stretches and contracts, creating mechanical energy that is converted into electricity.

SRI is hoping to demonstrate its ability to generate at least 10 Watts of power in waves about 3.3 feet (one meter) in height, a stepping stone to the 100-Watt capacity the researchers hope to be able to generate within a few years. One of their goals is to replace the 25-Watt batteries that navigation buoys use today with a source of renewable energy that can power additional equipment such as cameras and storm warning sensors.

Once the EPAM buoys are each efficient enough to generate significant power, SRI may try to link dozens of them to create a wave energy farm that might be an option for delivering electricity to landlubbers. "You could put [a wave farm] on a seawall to power a factory," says Roy Kornbluh, SRI's principal research engineer.

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