Marine and Environment

Development and Testing of a Wave Powered Offshore Sensing System

Led by James VanZwieten, Ph.D.

James VanZwieten, Ph.D.


This project will develop and test a small energy storage and water property monitoring system designed to enhance the utility of a small Wave Energy Converter (WEC). Over the past two years undergraduate students have designed, built, and tested a small WEC capable of producing up to approximately 100 Watts of electrical power. This WEC currently converts wave energy to electrical power, measures this electrical power to assess system performance, and converts this electrical power to heat using a resister. While this WEC system is currently useful for assessing its own power production characteristics, a system is needed for power conditioning and battery charging to derive value from the generated electrical power for Powering the Blue Economy applications. Additionally, integrating oceanographic sensors into this system will transition it into a self-charging environmental monitoring system. Once these systems are developed and integrated into this WEC, short term nearshore or offshore testing is planned to demonstrate the utility of this system at the prototype stage.

Students with a strong background in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Physics (or similar) with computer programming experience should be a good match for this project. Also, the exact focus of this project will be based on the selected participant’s background and the state of an ongoing project at the start of the REU program.