Researchers explored the possibility of harvesting mechanical energy of ocean waves and converting it into electrical energy via triboelectric nanogenerators.
Renewable energy sources such as solar energy or wind energy are unable to maintain continuous operation. In the absence of daylight and wind, neither of the two can supply any power. Researchers from the University of Porto discuss the possibility of harvesting energy from ocean waves which are omnipresent and abundant.
Cátia Rodrigues, from the University of Porto, discussed the prospects of using power generators in the ocean to address the energy concerns of marine exploration at the AIP Publishing Horizons — Energy Storage and Conversion virtual conference.
“Even so, the development of wave energy converters has not yet reached its full potential due to the lack of technological consensus, uncompetitive energy generation costs, and the irregular and low-frequency nature of waves at sea,” said Rodrigues.
The team developed sphere-based triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) that harvests mechanical energy from the ambient environment and converts it into electrical energy. These nanogenerators can be incorporated directly into navigational buoys to provide electricity from ocean waves.
The researchers tested the TENGs on a 1:8 scale in real conditions, and found that maximum voltages can be generated when waves occur at heights of 0.1 meters approximately every 2.6 seconds. According to them, even when waves are inconsistent and slow, the energy conversion efficiency of the TENGs is much larger than standard generators.
“Concerning wave energy, some relevant challenges still exist to the viable deployment of conversion technologies, mostly linked to the irregular nature of waves and the distribution of energy in both direction and frequency,” Rodrigues said.