After a thorough evaluation of the submissions for the Direct Generation Concept Creation Competition, a total of 5 projects have been selected, with participants from both industry and academia.
These projects are investigating concepts for both Dielectric Elastomer Generators (DEGs) and Dielectric Fluid Generators (DFGs). These are varying capacitance energy harvesting technologies which have the characteristic of being able to directly transform movement (stretching, twisting, bending) of a material, into electrical energy. This offers opportunities for significant cost reduction of Wave Energy Converter (WEC) technologies.
The five successful projects progressing are (subject to contract):
The project is led by 4c Engineering team, a team of experts from the marine energy sector that has previously worked on collaborative international R&D projects, funded by the US Department of Energy and Innovate UK. They bring their knowledge of construction and computational modelling of marine energy technologies to this competition. Their partner, Cheros Srl, has established itself in the field of electroactive polymers through work on previous projects such as PolyWEC and WETFEET. Together, they will investigate the feasibility of multiple DFG concepts in this competition.
AWS has been working in the ocean energy sector for nearly two decades. In the recent WES Novel Wave Energy Converter (NWEC) call, they were selected to develop a partial scale version of their WaveSwing technology. They also hold an ‘Electric Eel’ Direct Generation technology patent. In this competition, they will be working with Cheros Srl, SRL International, Pelrine Innovations LLC and 4c Engineering to investigate different DEG concepts for Direct Generation WECs.
The University of Southampton (UoS) and Nottingham University Rolls Royce Technology Centre (UTC) will collaborate on a project that leverages their combined expertise. The Southampton team brings significant experience on the control and modelling of WECs, along with a dedicated large tank testing facility for benchmarking small-scale WECs. The Nottingham team will contribute their knowledge, manufacturing facility and characterisation methods for dielectric materials. Together they will investigate and optimise the design of a multi-module DEG WEC.
WaveX is a tech start-up which has been specialised in developing flexible nearshore structures, recently winning Imperial’s Venture Catalyst Challenge 2023 for a wave energy converter which can be embedded within the seabed. They will work with both Cheros srl and Michelin on this project. Cheros Srl will bring their DEG wave energy knowledge, while Michelin brings a century worth of elastomeric experience and expertise. Together they will investigate both DFG and DEG submerged pressure-differential Direct Generation concepts.
TTI Marine Renewables has experience on developing solutions for the marine renewables industry. They have worked with elastomeric composites for WECs through their NetBuoy Project and with AWS on their multi-cell wave energy converter. In this project, they are working with a Manchester University team comprising of experience in high voltage engineering and elastomeric materials science. Together they will investigate different DEG WEC concepts.
The next stage of the competition will start on the 1st November, taking place over 12 to 14 weeks. A workshop will be run during February for each team to give their final presentations. Following this, up to 2 projects and teams may be taken forward to a full technology development programme.