Wave-powered SeaRAY preps for Hawaii trial

The Modular Ocean Knowledge Acquisition system’s fortified knowledge assortment system will course of, clear, and show knowledge from about 70 completely different sensors aboard the SeaRAY. Right here, water energy analysis technicians Mark Murphy and Andrew Simms put together the system for extra rigorous checks. Credit score: Vern Slocum, NREL

Offshore industries, like marine analysis, fish farming, and mineral mining, usually depend on large ships with giant crews. With out clear power to energy these vessels, every journey out to sea and again to shore just isn’t solely costly but in addition carbon intensive. You can’t cost that ship by plugging it into the ocean.

Or perhaps you possibly can.

An autonomous, wave-powered, renewable power system—known as the SeaRAY autonomous offshore energy system (AOPS)—might energy offshore work and assist shield our oceans and local weather, too. The SeaRAY AOPS not solely makes and shops clear, carbon-free power, nevertheless it additionally shares knowledge with the offshore automobiles it powers. Designed by C-Energy, the SeaRAY AOPS might present clear power for offshore actions, together with aquaculture (like offshore fish farms), mining, oceanographic analysis, navy missions, methane leak monitoring at underwater oil and fuel wells, and even desalination for distant communities and pure catastrophe restoration.

“Something you possibly can consider,” mentioned Andrew Simms, a analysis technician on the Nationwide Renewable Vitality Laboratory (NREL), “SeaRAY can energy offshore.”

The worldwide ocean economic system is predicted to double from $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion by 2030. Powering this economic system with renewable power is essential to guard these huge and weak waters, which home about 1,000,000 species, 17% of the world’s meals provide, and 70% of its oxygen.

To show the SeaRAY AOPS can assist energy this so-called blue economic system, C-Energy partnered with NREL and the U.S. Division of Vitality Water Energy Applied sciences Workplace to prep the system for its first open ocean trial.

“NREL has a essential function on this venture,” mentioned Reenst Lesemann, C-Energy’s chief government officer. “They don’t seem to be solely serving to present the brains of the AOPS but in addition serving to with testing and debugging the system earlier than we get into the water.”

To verify the SeaRAY AOPS is prepared for a six-month oceanic trial on the U.S. Navy Wave Vitality Check Website in Hawaii, NREL researchers are simulating rolling ocean actions on the laboratory’s Flatirons Campus in Colorado. With NREL’s novel subject knowledge assortment and management system, known as Modular Ocean Knowledge Acquisition (MODAQ), the crew will examine that SeaRAY AOPS can function as supposed whereas rocking with ocean waves.

“We’re treating this like a satellite tv for pc,” Simms mentioned. “Earlier than we deploy, every part have to be proper to realize profitable energy technology in Hawaii and elsewhere. We have to stroll earlier than we run.”

The SeaRAY AOPS might be smaller or bigger to fulfill particular wants, producing between 100 watts and 20 kilowatts—sufficient power to energy something from a seafloor data-gathering system to a medium-sized subsea automobile or floor vessel. On the ocean’s floor, a wave power converter captures and transforms wave movement into electrical energy, which is then saved on the SeaRAY and in a seafloor battery. On the identical time, the SeaRAY collects, shops, and delivers knowledge each from and to the system it powers and between the SeaRAY and its handlers on land.

“You may take into consideration an AOPS as a charging station, an information server, and a cell tower out within the ocean,” Lesemann mentioned.

In Hawaii, venture companions, together with Saab—a world chief in electrical underwater robotics—the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and BioSonics, will pair the SeaRAY AOPS with their electronics, which acquire knowledge on methane and carbon ranges, fish exercise, and extra. Usually, autonomous underwater automobiles like Saab’s want energy from a topside ship that emits about 7,000 vehicles’ value of carbon dioxide per 12 months; the SeaRAY can forestall these emissions.

Wave-powered SeaRAY preps for Hawaii trial
Andrew Simms helped construct this subject knowledge acquisition system (referred to as MODAQ), which makes use of clear power from ocean waves to gather and retailer knowledge within the cloud. Credit score: Vern Slocum, NREL

“With Saab,” Lesemann mentioned, “we’re seeking to present you could keep away from that carbon dioxide manufacturing and, on the identical time, cut back prices and operational complexity whereas enabling autonomous operations that aren’t doable right this moment.”

To ship all that knowledge again to these companions in actual time, the SeaRAY AOPS wanted a mind: MODAQ. Initially designed to standardize and improve the standard and breadth of subject knowledge assortment, the primary MODAQ might do primary knowledge acquisition and situation monitoring (that means that it stored monitor of how a wave power system carried out). SeaRAY’s fortified MODAQ is one more acronym: a supervisory management and knowledge acquisition, or SCADA, system. Now, the device not solely collects subject knowledge, nevertheless it additionally sends data to the cloud and connects to the online so prospects can watch a stay SeaRAY efficiency, obtain knowledge on how a tool is functioning, and even management these capabilities from a desk midway all over the world.

“Our final aim,” Simms mentioned, “is to offer a quick, dependable, and sturdy knowledge acquisition and management system that may add, course of, and show knowledge to a consumer in near-real time.”

That’s no straightforward feat. SeaRAY has about 70 sensors that acquire huge quantities of knowledge. To deal with all that data, the crew expanded their system, making it the biggest, most complicated MODAQ but. Usually, that sort of improvement takes 4 years. The NREL crew did it in a single.

However earlier than MODAQ goes underwater with SeaRAY, the crew should shield it from a corrosive and violent ocean.

Out at sea, salt can decay uncovered equipment, crashing waves can injury cables, and the conductive saltwater could cause one thing known as galvanic corrosion; when two completely different metals are submerged in a conductive answer, one can deteriorate at a distinct charge than the opposite. “Every thing must be splash-proof and saltwater-rated,” mentioned Mark Murphy, an NREL analysis technician. And, to thwart galvanic corrosion, he continued, “we had to ensure we weren’t mixing and matching metals within the water.”

Open-ocean testing presents one other problem: fixed, typically violent movement. To verify the SeaRAY AOPS runs nicely even in turbulence, the NREL crew connected it to a dynamometer, a machine usually used to check wind turbine turbines. To place SeaRAY via the motions of the ocean, the NREL engineers designed a completely new take a look at rig—a hydraulic dynamometer—that higher simulates rocking waves and currents. A hydraulic dynamometer, which makes use of fluids to energy a motor and rock the SeaRAY, can swap route a lot sooner than an electrical motor, which spins at nice speeds however just isn’t as nimble.

“With a hydraulic motor, there’s not almost as a lot inertia, and you may change route,” mentioned Scott Lambert, a mechanical engineer at NREL who designed the brand new hydraulic dynamometer from scratch. “That is necessary once you need to change route consistently to simulate waves.”

SeaRAY’s wave power converter makes use of two floats, one on either side, that roll with ocean waves and hook up with a power-take-off system—a mechanical machine that transforms that movement into power. That system then runs a generator. And that generator connects to batteries on the seafloor, a storage system that NREL Analysis Engineer Ismael Mendoza may even take a look at out earlier than the ocean trial. “The primary time the storage system and SeaRAY meet is within the ocean,” Mendoza mentioned.

This fall, the SeaRAY crew will pack their system into a typical delivery container and ship it to Hawaii. There, a small boat will tow the know-how to its ocean take a look at website. This straightforward transport is purposeful; C-Energy made positive its wave-powered system might be transported wherever on this planet with few logistical obstacles and with minimal price, crew, and carbon emissions.

As soon as the open ocean subject take a look at is full, the MODAQ system will present the C-Energy crew with knowledge to additional enhance the SeaRAY system and make it even smaller, lighter, extra environment friendly, and extra adaptable for a wider vary of purposes.

“I believe we did an excellent job,” Simms mentioned. “We’re about to seek out out.”


New clear power tech extracts twice the facility from ocean waves


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