Converting ocean waves into electricity and freshwater


team:

Marcus Lehmann, M.Sc. (second from right) and the CalWave team

Marcus Lehmann, M.Sc. (second from right) and the CalWave team

Using his extensive experience in product development and background in industry, Marcus leads a diverse team of engineers, business development specialists, advisers, and industry partners around the CalWave project. He holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering and an honors degree in technology management from the Technical University of Munich. Marcus is member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association, and a fellow of the Reiner Lemoine-Foundation.

The CalWave team collaborates closely with the Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (TAFLab) at the University of California, Berkeley. TAFLab is lead by professor Reza Alam, who developed the original idea for the Wave Carpet. 
 
CalWave was awarded 1st place at the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative Innovation Expo in in 2013 and 2014. The project has been covered by National Geographic, Reuters, MIT Technology Review, San Francisco Business Times, Berkeley Media, and others.


technology:

Critical need: Wave energy is a huge, predictable, and consistent resource that is more energy dense than other renewables. If harnessed, wave energy could provide renewable baseload power and desalination to coastal population centers, while also reducing coastal erosion.   

 
Lewis, A., S. Estefen, J. Huckerby, W. Musial, T. Pontes, J. Torres‐Martinez, 2011: Ocean Energy. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs‐Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press. Figure 6.1

Lewis, A., S. Estefen, J. Huckerby, W. Musial, T. Pontes, J. Torres‐Martinez, 2011: Ocean Energy. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs‐Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press. Figure 6.1

 

Technology vision: CalWave is developing a novel Wave Energy Converter (WEC) called the Wave Carpet that is simple, modular, and scalable. The Wave Carpet is capable of operating at high efficiency while being semi-submerged in the water column. This unique capability is survivable in storm conditions and results in no visual pollution or collision danger at the surface.

Current state-of-the-art: The wave energy industry is often compared with the wind energy industry a decade ago. No dominant design for Wave Energy Converters has yet emerged.

Key innovation: The ability of a muddy seafloor to dampen ocean waves is well documented at various locations around the world. In the Gulf of Mexico, the wave–mud interaction is so strong that large storm waves are damped within a couple of wavelengths. The Wave Carpet WEC mimics this phenomenon to efficiently absorb the energy in passing waves. 

Manufacturing challenges: Optimization of design and manufacturing parameters for survivability and lifecycle cost.

Competing Technology: Similar to wind energy in its early stages, several very different WEC designs are being investigated. A WEC design can vary in its operation location (near shore or offshore, on the surface, semi-submerged or on the bottom), in its orientation to the wave (point absorber, expansion with wave propagation, or perpendicular to wave propagation direction) and its working principle (compressible or incompressible working fluids in a closed or open system, direct conversion from mechanical to electrical power, etc.). 

First market hypothesis: Wave energy is a very dense, predictable, and reliable form of renewable energy created through friction of wind on ocean surfaces. The Wave Carpet could be an ideal complement to renewables, especially for the growing demand at load centers on coastlines all over the world.

Potential for impact: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wave energy has the potential to power 50 million US homes and PG&E estimates that wave energy could provide 10% of California’s power needs. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates the total theoretical wave power resource to be 29,500 TWh/yr of which 31% is located in North America.

Update, February 2016: CalWave recently competed among the final 20 teams of the DOE Wave Energy Prize and Marcus was recognized as one of Forbes Magazine's 30 under 30. 

We're looking for:

  • Technical collaborator
  • Funders
  • Joint development partners
  • Team members - scientists, engineers
  • Team members - business
  • Interns

Links: 

calwave.org

Contact: mlehmann [at] lbl [dot] gov


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