We are exploring a new approach to ocean energy extraction through a device that we refer to as the NAF (an acronym for Non-Archimedean Float). The NAF is a fully submerged body with excess buoyancy; i.e., the mass of the body is far less than the mass of the water it displaces. When such a float is tethered beneath the ocean surface the buoyancy yields a large force vector in the direction perpendicular to the isobaric surfaces that parallel the water/air interface. The constant shifting of the wave troughs provides the opportunity for energy extraction using turbines affixed to the float. We are exploring the NAF concept because its simplicity results in many inherent benefits. The device has few moving parts, gathers energy from waves coming in any direction, and exists as a non-obtrusive, completely submerged installation. A numerical model of the NAF has been created to determine the dynamic behavior and power output for various configurations and under various wave conditions. The numerical model is set up to calculate the various forces experienced by the NAF float, and from these it calculates the velocity and position of the float through time series steps. The model effectively demonstrates which variables are important and how power output relates to NAF dimensions. One early finding from the model result relates to tuning the natural frequency of the NAF to match the natural frequency of the waves. The NAF moves like an inverted pendulum, and its natural frequency is primarily dependent on the length of the pendulum. Regardless of the actual float buoyancy, the 6 to 12 second periods that typify average wave conditions dictate that the NAF tether should be between 30-m and 60-m long. Also, a scale version of this novel energy device consisting of a float tethered beneath the ocean surface was deployed off the coast of southern California. The deployment yielded rich data sequences that are sufficient for comparison with a dynamic numerical model.
- Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering Division
Generating Power From Ocean Waves Using a Float With Excessive Buoyancy: Theory and Dynamic Model Results
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MacCready, T, Zambrano, T, & Hibbs, BD. "Generating Power From Ocean Waves Using a Float With Excessive Buoyancy: Theory and Dynamic Model Results." Proceedings of the ASME 2003 22nd International Conference on Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering. Volume 3: Materials Technology; Ocean Engineering; Polar and Arctic Sciences and Technology; Workshops. Cancun, Mexico. June 8–13, 2003. pp. 477-480. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/OMAE2003-37059
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