Wave-Powered Generators Deployed off Florida Coast

Silicon Valley-based SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, announced on Friday the deployment of a prototype buoy-mounted, ocean wave-powered generator off the coast of Florida in the Tampa Bay. SRI will test the wave-powered generator for approximately two weeks.

The deployment is part of a program sponsored by HYPER DRIVE Corporation, Ltd., a Japanese company focused on development and deployment of wave-powered generators around the world.

SRI’s wave-powered generators can be deployed on existing ocean buoys that use batteries as their energy source, use patented electroactive polymer artificial muscle (EPAMTM) technology, and offer a renewable method to continually power ocean buoys. SRI will use instrumentation that allows remote monitoring of the generator’s output energy as well as wave height and buoy motion.

“In this first application of EPAM to wave-power generation, we are able to demonstrate the feasibility of a new, low-cost and highly efficient technology that can harvest electricity directly from ocean waves,” said Philip von Guggenberg, Director of Business Development at SRI International.

Assisting the Menlo Park, California-based research team are researchers in SRI’s new Marine Technology Program, which is located in St. Petersburg, Florida. SRI is also working with Artificial Muscle, Inc., an SRI spin-off company and the exclusive licensee of EPAM, in the development of the EPAM components for the wave-powered generators.

“HYPER DRIVE is excited to work with SRI on this important application of EPAM technology,” said Shuji Yonemura, CEO, HYPER DRIVE. “We see great potential in applying this technology to wave-power generation around the world in the near future.”

The generator, initially deployed on a navigation buoy for ports and harbors, is capable of generating 20 joules of energy per stroke, which corresponds to an average output power of more than 5 watts under typical ocean wave conditions. The current development program aims at developing generators that can produce 25 watts of average output power.

Future efforts will address the design, development, and deployment of wave-powered generators capable of generating power in the kilowatts range for large-scale clean energy production.

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