WPTO boosts small business marine energy innovation projects

The US Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has awarded new research and development project funding for marine energy technologies.

The selected small businesses are receiving Phase I Release 2 grants for innovations that demonstrate technical feasibility during the first phase of their research.

Most Phase I awards are for $200,000, covering a period of less than one year.

Co-Development of Marine Energy Technology at Smaller Scales

Oscilla Power Integrated Wave Power Charging Capability for Ocean Observing Vehicles: Ocean-based observing operations are currently limited by access to power. Oscilla’s project will center on development of a wave-powered, self-charging capability for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to extend the range of their missions, which could potentially enable unlimited ocean-based observing as well as more comprehensive surveillance for military operations.

Ocean Motion Technologies Leveraging Co-Development for the Energy Capture Subsystem of a Small-Scale Adaptive Wave Energy Converter: Current small-scale power supplies at sea perform sub-optimally due to high maintenance costs in the harsh marine environment, and these challenges severely limit the potential to utilize the ocean. This project plans to fabricate a cost-effective, adaptive ocean wave energy device that can optimize its power output based on ambient environments.

Columbia Power Technologies Wave Energy Power Generation System for Hybrid Oil and Gas Drill Rigs: Columbia Power will deliver a preliminary wave energy conversion prototype—the RigRAY design—to validate a commercially viable path to providing renewable power to remote offshore oil and gas platforms. The ultimate goal is to partially or completely replace on-board, carbon-based power systems used for powering offshore operations in the Blue Economy.

SAHT Energy MHK co-development: Constructed waterways represent a huge, virtually untapped potential source of carbon-free energy that can be harvested using existing infrastructure with minimal environmental impacts and with potential to scale. This SBIR research will investigate constructed waterway flow conditions such as the critical point, the needs of irrigators, and whether the company’s patented Suction Augmented Hydrokinetic Turbine can effectively harvest this power at a favorable levelized cost of electricity.

Triton Systems Wave Energy Harvesting to Power Ocean Buoys: Many activities within the Blue Economy benefit from unattended, powered buoy and mooring systems. However, available power for these buoys is currently limited; the proposed project will focus on developing a wave energy converter (WEC) design that can potentially double the available power and increase the capability of many types of buoys used in the ocean today.

Resolute Marine Energy Nereus – Powering AUVs using Ocean Waves: Resolute Marine is developing an innovative wave-driven powering system, called Nereus, that can provide a locally generated, reliable power source for underwater docking and recharge stations.

iMetalx Group Marine Energy Ocean Observation and Unmanned System Recharging Station: iMetalx is developing a Deep Ocean Sensing Platform to meet observation needs, particularly those within the Blue Economy. Marine industries that could benefit from this platform include but are not limited to weather modeling, ocean mining, maritime surveillance, and aquaculture.

Aegis Technology Modular and Low-Cost Marine Current Energy Converters: Aegis Technology has teamed up with an end-user partner, Bioenno Tech, to co-develop a novel class of transportable, small-scale marine energy systems. Aegis’ project will focus on development of a modular, low-cost current energy converter, which they plan to combine with Bioenno’s back-end energy storage module to integrate into a renewable energy system.

3newable Preventing Biofouling of Oceanographic Sensors Using Ultraviolet Illumination Powered by a Compact Wave Energy Converter: Oceanography measurements cease when power is unavailable or when growth of unwanted organisms (biofouling) blocks sensors. 3renewable’s wave energy generator design harnesses the motion of ocean waves to generate electricity to power ultraviolet light emitting diodes that prevent biofouling, thereby reducing the number of expensive ship visits for maintenance.

E-Wave Technologies A Self-Reactive Marine Energy Converter to Power Ocean Aquaculture: E-Wave Technologies and Virginia Tech will collaborate on the development of an innovative WEC design to power ocean aquaculture. The team plans to design and deploy a 35–40 kilowatt flap-type WEC system. This system will be hinged to a fish feed buoy and will provide power for feeding and monitoring systems of an open-ocean fish farm with reduced cost, increased automation, and minimal environmental impacts.

ROI Engineering Co-Development of Oscillating Water Column and Offshore Power Station: ROI Engineering LLC plans to develop the design for a 10-kilowatt, low-cost oscillating water column WEC from fiberglass materials, as well as a high-speed generator and a wireless charging station for Autonomous Underwater Vehicle or Unmanned Underwater Vehicle applications.

Waterway Debris Remediation Powered by Marine Energy

Littoral Power Systems Riverine Surface Debris Removal System Powered by Marine Hydrokinetics: Littoral Power Systems (LPS) will develop its current energy-powered HydroCatch system to catch plastic debris in rivers before it enters the oceans. Adapted for low-velocity currents, LPS’s technology is scalable to large, heavily navigated rivers and will focus on delivering a system capable of protecting ocean-based food and recreation sources.

Visionary Products Context-Aware Robotic Trash Boom: Rivers and canals can be a major source of pollution, depositing floating trash into sensitive ecosystems where it remains for decades or longer. Leveraging machine learning, this project will explore a cost-effective, manufacturable, and maintainable robotic solution for monitoring and removing floating trash from waterways.

The companies were selected as part of $53 million funding for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research and development projects.