Development of a Self-Adaptive Air Turbine for Wave Energy Conversion using an Oscillaating Water Column (OWC) Air System

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Concepts NREC
217 Billings Farm Road Array
White River Junction, VT 05001
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Maine Maritime Academy
Mathematics Division
Castine, ME 4420
Institution POC


The oscillating water column (OWC) is a candidate technology for the economical recovery of the projected 17.5 x 1012 kW-hr energy that is available from the world¿s oceans. While the relative dynamics between the OWC system and the incident water waves are mathematically understood, computational solutions have not been used to ¿tune¿ the OWC turbine-generator sub-systems to operate where the aerodynamics is most efficient for wave energy recovery. This project will produce a computational solution to predict the how the changing pressure and air volume flow rates, during the waxing and waning of the wave, affect the performance of the OWC system. The results will be used to guide re-designs to improve OWC wave energy recovery. In Phase I, the re-designs will be assessed to determine their cost-effectiveness and their robustness to withstand the severe ocean environment. Phase II will validate these re-designs using test facilities at the Maine Maritime Academy. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: An optimized OWC system should increase energy recovery by 40%, which is, in effect, a reduction in the cost per kW. This cost reduction would make the OWC system more attractive to entrepreneurial commercial developers and/or governmental or institutional funding agencies. Even a 0.1% utilization of the world¿s ocean energy would be enough energy to power an additional 70 million households throughout the world.