Seafloor Carpet to Harness Wave Energy

Seafloor Carpet to Harness Wave Energy

Assistant professor Reza Alam, an expert in wave mechanics, proposes the seafloor “carpet” which will convert ocean waves into usable energy.

“There is a vast amount of untapped energy in the oceans, and with increasing worldwide demand for power, the need to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels is critical,” said Alam.

Marcus Lehmann, a Ph.D. researcher on Alam’s team, added that one potential application for their system could be to lower the high cost of purifying seawater into drinkable water, helping states – and countries – weather periods of drought.

“The benefit of having a system underwater is that there is minimal visual and physical impact on boats and sea life,” said Alam. “Our system would work with no problem in stormy conditions because the water column above the carpet buffers the impact momentum of surging waves. In fact, our carpet is even more efficient when ocean waves are stronger.”

Alam estimated that one square meter of a seafloor carpet system could generate enough electricity to power two U.S. households. He added that wave energy from just 10 meters of California coastline, or about 100 square meters of a seafloor carpet, could generate the same amount of power as an array of solar panels the size of a soccer field, which covers about 6,400 square meters.

Funding for this research was provided by the American Bureau of Shipping. The researchers also set up a project site via Microryza, a crowdsourcing platform for research projects.

Press release, January 30, 2014; Image: berkeley