Illustration/Oscilla Power’s Triton-C wave energy device heading to deployment site in Hawaii (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)

US DOE backs six small marine energy projects with nearly $7M R&D funding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has supported six small business-led marine energy projects with close to $6.8 million in an effort to drive innovation in marine energy industry.

Illustration/Oscilla Power’s Triton-C wave energy device heading to deployment site in Hawaii (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)

The funding was provided as part of Phase II of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

Selected by DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), the projects are expected to drive innovation in marine energy and help achieve the country’s clean energy goals.

The funding was distributed under three topics, with the first being related to co-development of marine energy technologies with end-user partners. The company that received the support as part of this topic is Emrgy, based in Georgia.

Emrgy will partner with ProsumerGrid and Idaho National Laboratory to develop a hydrokinetic system with a battery energy storage system to generate power from the water moving through canals and other water conveyance systems. The team will evaluate this technology’s ability to provide reliable, low-cost energy to the agricultural sector.

The second topic, technology solutions for advancing ocean co-existence and co-use with marine energy and communities, supported California-based Ocean Motion Technologies for a project will use existing wave energy converter (WEC) devices to power an ocean-data-gathering platform for scientific research and environmental conservation policy in coastal communities. 

The team will design an autonomous underwater vehicle docking station that can integrate with existing WEC devices and explore business models for delivering the combined wave energy and data gathering device at a reduced cost.

The third topic, co-development of marine energy technology at smaller scales, supported four projects. The first is led 3newable from California. This project aims to extend deployment periods of instrumentation systems by capturing wave energy to power an anti-biofouling UV illumination device. Keeping the instrumentation system free of plants and animals that can accumulate in the water will help devices survive harsh ocean conditions longer and improve scientific data collection.

Ocean Motion Technologies secured support in this topic as well, for a project that will develop an independent power unit, driven by a wave energy converter, that can be installed on most oceanographic buoys. The power unit will allow buoys to be used for data collection for ocean sciences, security monitoring, and offshore agriculture.

Wave energy technology developer Oscilla Power has been successful in securing funding as well. The Washington-based company will lead a project that aims to develop a wave-powered autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) system. This rechargeable system will be able to remain at sea longer, collect more data, and have better communications capabilities compared to currently available commercial AUVs. 

The final company that was backed is Massachusetts-based Triton Systems with a project that will develop a WEC to integrate into existing ocean buoy designs. This will allow ocean observing buoys to double their power and greatly increase the amount of data available to scientists, as well as provide power for navigational buoys, create underwater autonomous vehicle recharging nodes, and provide naval surveillance nodes with minimal surface presence.

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