Dielectric Elastomer Generators (DEGs) are very promising systems that are able to directly convert oscillating mechanical energy into direct electricity. Their nature and main attributes make them particularly interesting for harvesting energy form ocean waves. In this context, several efforts have been made in the last years to develop effective Wave Energy Converters based on DEG [1-4].
In this contribution, we present a novel Wave Energy Converter (WEC) based on the Oscillating Water Column principle. The device features an inflatable DEG as Power Take Off (PTO) system and collector - i.e. the part of the device that is directly interacting with waves – that possesses a coaxial-ducted shape as described in .
Models of the coupled behavior that consider the electro-hyperelastic response of the DEG and the hydrodynamics are presented. It is shown that the dynamic response and the effectiveness of the system can be largely improved through an appropriate dimensioning of the geometry of the device. Specifically, the dynamic response of the system can be designed to match the corresponding harmonic content of water waves achieving an effective conversion of the incoming mechanical energy.
A small/intermediate scale prototype of the system is built and tested in a wave tank facility - i.e. a basin in which artificially controlled waves can be generated - available at Flowave (UK).
Mathematical models are validated against experimental results for monochromatic and panchromatic tests. During the experiments, we obtained peak of estimated power output in the range of 1 W to 4 W with an energy density for the dielectric material of approximately 80-120W/kg.
The achieved results represent a milestone in the study of WEC based on DEG, paving the path toward scaling up of this technology.
Giacomo Moretti, Rocco Vertechy, and Marco Fontana, "Experimental test of a dynamically tuned wave energy converter based on inflatable dielectric elastomer generators (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101632F (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 29, 2017; Published: 10 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2259983.5427376521001.
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