Ocean Current Power Generator

Period of Performance: 01/01/2001 - 12/31/2001

$700K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Abacus Controls, Inc.
80 Readington Road, PO Box 893
Somerville, NJ 08876
Principal Investigator

Abstract

60165 The Gulf Stream off the southeastern coast of Florida is a natural source of renewable energy that is ready for development using today¿s technology. Unlike other renewable sources, water flows 24 hours a day and can be counted on as a base source of electric power. This project will utilize the Underwater Electric Kite, which has been tested in the Niagara River and is ready for ocean deployment. A multi-discipline team has been assembled to determine the best location, taking the cost into consideration as well as such technical factors as: (1) the anticipated water velocity and its tolerance in magnitude and direction, (2) detailed plans for cable and vessel design for the water velocity and the ocean environment, and (3) the electric design to bring the power to shore safely and reliably. In Phase I, the Underwater Electric Kite was sized for the 180 cm/sec water flow and all power components were selected. The cable and mooring technique was conceptually completed. In Phase II, a detailed design of the Underwater Electric Kite will be completed and production drawings will be created. A communication method between the shore and the vessel will be developed along with a maximum power tracking strategy. Finally, a prototype ocean current power generator will be built and tested in Chesapeake Bay. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: Present estimates show that a 10MW generator park can be built for $3.56 per watt. This would have a factor of six advantage over photovoltaics: a two-to-one advantage in installation cost and a three to one advantage in running 24 hours per day instead of 8. Once the prototype is operational, Florida utilities should be anxious to take advantage of a free fuel source of power that needs no real estate, can¿t be seen, can¿t be heard, can¿t be smelled, and is environmentally, ecologically, and economically attractive.