NAVFAC EXWC supports testing of Wave Energy Converter

Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) has supported the testing of Wave Energy Converter (WEC) at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) off Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), Kaneohe, Hawaii, on the Island of Oahu.

Photo: US Navy

In October 2018, the Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) at the University of Hawaii, with funding from NAVFAC, and in partnership with the University of Washington, Fred. Olsen and Sea Engineering began the second round of testing of the Fred. Olsen “BOLT Lifesaver” WEC device.

The device uses three power take-off (PTO) units that convert the motion of the passing waves to electrical power by way of rotary electrical generators. Control and health-monitoring of these on-board systems are housed in the Control Center. The WEC is not connected to shore, and the power generated is stored in a battery bank.

As explained, the phase of Lifesaver testing at WETS has two primary aims; first, to improve device reliability and power performance, through alterations to the device mooring strategy, and second, to demonstrate an alternative means of powering oceanographic instrumentation without using utility-supplied electrical grid power or single-use batteries.

The instrumentation, known as the Wave-powered Adaptable Monitoring Package (WAMP), is being tested on BOLT Lifesaver and was designed, assembled, and integrated with the WEC by the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC), University of Washington, leveraging the capabilities of the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Receiving its power from the Lifesaver, the WAMP provides persistent underwater sensing, and supports unmanned, undersea vehicle (UUV) re-charge using a wireless power transfer system developed by Seattle startup Wibotic. The WAMP is the latest in a series of demonstrations of the core AMP technology and is being used in this application to better understand the marine environment around an operational WEC buoy.

The joint Lifesaver-WAMP test is funded by NAVFAC, the US Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation. The overall effort is part of a larger joint US Navy, DOE, academic, and industry research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) project.

This is the world’s first demonstration of the potentially transformative capability for WECs to enable persistent oceanographic observation and UUV re-charge without a cable to shore, according to the navy.