FAU’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center Recovers Missing Research Buoy with Unique Ocean Energy Data
BOCA RATON, Fla. (January 22, 2014) – The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) at Florida Atlantic University has recovered a subsurface buoy that disappeared during a deployment near Fort Lauderdale in 2009. The buoy, discovered by a fisherman offshore Graciosa Island in the Azores, included acoustic instruments used to characterize how the Gulf Stream could be used to generate electricity.
“We were quite surprised when we received a call that our buoy had been found,” said Susan Skemp, executive director of the SNMREC at FAU. “The data that have been recovered from the buoy constitute an important addition to data sets that are widely used around the world in marine energy research.”
The recovered buoy (approximately 49 inches in diameter) hosted two Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), which measure flow speed and direction, along with an acoustic modem used for accessing data while the systems are installed offshore. The buoy was the deepest and easternmost mooring of the SNMREC’s deployments, and when recovered it contained 10 months of recorded data, which contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the Gulf Stream. The buoy’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean also provides a unique insight into larger circulation patterns. The SNMREC’s staff worked with Isidro Silva (the fisherman who discovered the buoy), Jorge Gonçalves (an Azores guide and interpreter) and Lt. Leonel Duarte Pedro (a Portuguese Coast Guard liaison) to accomplish the safe return of all the recovered equipment. The SNMREC hopes to foster a new relationship with the University of the Azores to collaborate on oceanographic research topics and measurements. Data recovered from the buoy is being processed and will be made available online at http://snmrec.fau.edu.
“The university very much appreciates the generous assistance of our new friends in the Azores who helped to have the equipment returned to us,” said FAU Interim President Dennis J. Crudele. “This type of collaboration illustrates the importance of international cooperation in the effort to generate energy from ocean currents.”
Although unrecovered equipment is not uncommon in oceanographic research, SNMREC staff have taken measures to reduce the likelihood of losing additional systems with tracking capabilities and by using more robust mooring materials.
About the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) :
Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Ocean Energy Technology was founded with a $5 million award from the State of Florida in January 2007 to research, design, develop, implement and test ocean energy technologies that are cost-competitive with existing power technologies. In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy designated the facility a national center for ocean energy research and development to advance the operational readiness of ocean energy technologies. With that designation its name was changed to the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center. The SNMREC is collaborating with industry partners to investigate, refine, fabricate and test promising next-generation water power technologies to harness the ocean’s vast energy potential. The Center’s researchers have already begun this work by deploying ocean current observation systems, establishing research on environmental baselines to determine the level of potential effects and fabricating support structures for ocean energy devices. The Center will ultimately perform full-scale field testing of prototype devices, an important step toward the successful development of commercial ocean energy generation. As a public institution of higher education, FAU is promoting public awareness of ocean energy research and development and is developing curricula to educate a workforce for this new industry. For more information, visit snmrec.fau.edu .
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.