Upgraded Lifesaver fit to size up Hawaii’s swells

BOLT Lifesaver at WETS trials in 2017 (Photo: Royer Studios)

Fred. Olsen wave energy converter – BOLT Lifesaver – has been fully upgraded ahead of six-month deployment off the coast of Hawaii.

The device underwent modifications to accommodate an oceanographic sensor package, developed by the Pacific Marine Energy Center, to demonstrate the wave energy converter’s ability to directly power external systems.

BOLT Lifesaver at WETS trials in 2017 (Photo: Royer Studios)

The project team will also make key modifications to the mooring systems, in order to examine simplified deployment processes and enhanced power performance of BOLT Lifesaver, before the device launches at the 30-meter deep test berth of the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS), located off Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“All modifications and upgrades are now completed, and the team is waiting for a break in the weather to install BOLT Lifesaver for a six-month sea trial,” the team said in a statement.

The sensor package, or Adaptable Monitoring Package – AMP, was designed and fabricated by engineering teams from the University of Washington (UW), before its installation and commissioning on BOLT Lifesaver which was completed in August.

“For the first time in our development program, we are set to power a third-party consumer system with electricity generated from ocean waves, and it marks an important milestone for us. Our primary business case is powering systems in the 1-50 kW range out on the ocean.

“UW Applied Physics Laboratory’s sensor package will draw a continuous load up to 40 Amps at 24VDC, and as such, presents a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities,” said Even Hjetland, Project Manager at Fred. Olsen.

Sensor package installed on BOLT Lifesaver (Photo: University of Washington)

In addition to the AMP’s usual set of sonars and cameras to observe the marine environment, the system includes an underwater data-logging and non-contact power transfer solution, developed by Seattle-based startup WiBotic, which is suitable for charging Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), Fred. Olsen said.

A collaborative effort, funded by the US Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), is made of the Applied Research Lab at University of Hawaii, the Applied Physics Lab at UW, offshore operations company Sea Engineering, and technology owner Fred. Olsen.

Fred. Olsen’s point absorber wave energy device endured a one-year demonstration at WETS, before the retrieval in the summer of 2017 to Pearl Harbor for refurbishment.