CalWave is developing a wave energy converter whose design is inspired by the ability of muddy seafloors to effectively absorb overpassing ocean waves.
Researchers participating in CalWave project came up with the idea of using a viscoelastic carpet of wave-energy conversion (CWEC) placed over a network of vertically oriented springs and generators on the coastal seafloor.
The flexible carpet responds just like mud – as waves pass overhead, they induce dynamic ripples and undulations in its sprung surface, and these perturbations can be used to generate electricity.
The principle components of the prototype consist of a synthetic seabed carpet, a direct physical connection, a hydraulic power take-off system and a mooring system.
The energy stored in overtopping waves is damped out by the absorber carpet and converted into hydraulic energy using double reacting reciprocating pumps which are connected to the carpet.
The CalWave team collaborates closely with the Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (TAFLab) at the University of California, Berkeley. TAFLab is lead by professor Reza Alam, who developed the original idea for the Wave Carpet.
According to Bloomberg, CalWave is developing two versions of its wave system – one that powers a hydraulic motor to produce power, and the other where the pistons pump seawater through the membranes of a desalination plant.
CalWave plans to deploy 80 kW prototype wave plant off San Diego late this year that would have the capacity to power 180 homes, Bloomberg reports.
Take a look at the video featuring more detailed explanations of Wave Carpet’s operating principles.