Progressing Towards Powering Devices with Ocean Energy

Fair enough to think of the World Wide Web as the most vast expanse you can think of, but when we are talking about the literal natural world there are no more vast expanses than the world’s oceans. Let’s look no further than the Pacific Ocean, with a size that exceeds that of all the continents on earth put together and is 46% of the water surface on earth. But the Indian Ocean needs a nod here too, as it has the greatest stretch of open water with absolutely nothing stand on between points. 19,000km between the Colombian Coast and the Malay Peninsula.

Enough about ocean bodies of water for now, the Web is a vast expanse in its own right but the number of devices in the world that rely on utilizing it is a fairly mammoth number in its own right. And perhaps the two are coming together now with news that researchers are well on their way to finding a way to harness the energy in the oceans to power devices needed out there.

It’s been said that there’s no stopping the tides, and when you think about the way the tides move based on lunar cycles and the all-powerful nature of all of that it’s really no surprise that this is considered as a potential supremo power source.

We’re like any other reputable Canadian web hosting provider here at 4GoodHosting in that we’re the furthest thing from scientists, but the prospect of anything that can provide solutions to the world’s growing power needs is something that we’ll take interest in right away. So this is something that is definitely interesting, and as such its our blog entry topic for this week.

Utilizing TENGs

In a world of global warming and resultant wilder weather there is even more of a need to stay on top of tsunamis, hurricanes, and maritime weather in general. There are sensors and other devices on platforms in the ocean to help keep coastal communities safe but they need a consistent and stable power supply like any other type of device.

It is required for those ocean sensors to collect critical wave and weather data, and if that’s not guaranteed then there are safety concerns for coastal communities that rely on accurate maritime weather information. As you’d guess, replacing batteries at sea is also expensive and so what if this could all be avoided by powering devices indefinitely from the energy in ocean waves?

There are overweight researchers working to make this a reality with the development of TENGS – triboelectric nanogenerators that are small powerhouses that convert wave energy into electricity to power devices at sea. Developed to a larger scale these TENGS may be able to power ocean observation and communications systems with acoustic and satellite telemetry.

The good news to that end are they are low cost, lightweight, and can efficiently convert slow, uniform or random waves into power. This makes them especially well-suited to powering devices in the open ocean where monitoring and access are going to be a challenged and likely coming with a lot of cost too.

Converter Magnets

TENGS work by means of carefully placed magnets converting energy more efficiently than other cylindrical versions of the same technology so that they are better for transform slow, uniform waves into electricity. More on how they work is related to triboelectric effect and for most of us the best way to conceptualize this is to think of all of the times we’ve received a static electric shock from clothing that’s fresh out of the dryer

A cylindrical TENG is made up of two nested cylinders with the inner cylinder rotating freely. Between the two cylinders are strips of artificial fur, aluminum electrodes, and a material similar to Teflon called fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP). With the device rolling along the surface of an ocean wave, the artificial fur and aluminum electrodes on one cylinder rub against the FEP material on the other cylinder. The static electricity that results can be converted into power.

More movement, more energy and researchers have been positioning magnets to stop the inner cylinder in the device from rotating until it reached the crest of a wave, allowing it to build up ever increasing amounts of potential energy. Nearing the crest of the wave, the magnets released and the internal cylinder started rolling down the wave very quickly. The faster movement produced electricity more efficiently, generating more energy from a slower wave.

The FMC-TENG is lightweight and can be used in both free-floating devices and moored platforms. Eventually it may be able to power integrated buoys with sensor arrays to track open ocean water, wind, and climate data entirely using renewable ocean energy.

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