SRI International has announced the deployment of a prototype buoy-mounted, ocean wave-powered generator off the coast of Florida in the Tampa Bay. The electroactive polymer artificial muscle (EPAM™) technology is used to produce electricity as they bob up and down attached to buoys. The deployment is part of a program sponsored by HYPER DRIVE Corporation, Ltd., a Japanese company focused on development and deployment of wave-powered generators around the world.
The wave-powered generators can be deployed on existing ocean buoys that use batteries as their energy source. The new generator utilizes patented electroactive polymer artificial muscle (EPAM™) technology, and offers a renewable method to continually power ocean buoys. The bouys will be equipped with instrumentation that allows remote monitoring of the generator’s output energy as well as wave height and buoy motion. SRI is working with Artificial Muscle, Inc., an SRI spin-off company and the exclusive licensee of EPAM, in the development of the EPAM components for the wave-powered generators.
The generator, initially deployed on a navigation buoy for ports and harbors, is capable of generating 20 joules of energy per stroke, which corresponds to an average output power of more than 5 watts under typical ocean wave conditions. The current development program aims at developing generators that can produce 25 watts of average output power. This is sufficient to supply all the power required by navigational buoys. Future efforts will address the design, development, and deployment of wave-powered generators capable of generating power in the kilowatts range for large-scale clean energy production.
According to the company website:
EPAM gets significant displacement from this electrostatic pressure as compared to other technologies. The overall displacement is a function of the area of EPAM, and the force exerted is a function of the number of layers of EPAM. These layers can be constructed in multiple planar configurations. Furthermore, the electrode layer of the EPAM can be patterned to achieve specific envelopes of motion.
To date, AMI's work in EPAM™ generators has focused on small amounts of power. Typical power generation has ranged from 1 to 50 W. There are many potential generator applications for dielectric elastomers at these smaller power levels.
On June 5, 2007 Artificial Muscle, Inc., (AMI), a privately held company in Menlo Park, CA, announced a $20 million Series B round of financing. AMI will use the funds for ramping up its high volume manufacturing and operations, new product development, and marketing and sales resources to support the plan for initial product launches.