The surface of earth is covered over 72% with water; therefore there is a huge potential to harvest energy from the blue oceans, including marine and hydrokinetic energy (MHK) and off-shore wind energy. The MHK energy technologies convert the energy of waves, tides, and river and ocean currents into electricity. For ocean waves alone, the resource potential is 64% of all the electricity generated from all resources in the USA. However, MHK energy is still in its infancy around the world because of the time-varying amplitudes and low velocity of irregular oscillating wave input, which make the high-efficiency and reliable power takeoff very challenging. Meanwhile, the wave excitation also challenges the offshore wind turbine platform. In this talk, I will present our research on ocean wave energy harvesting, with a focus interdisciplinary challenges and recent results in power takeoff design, hydrodynamics, power electronics, control, lab, tank and ocean tests, in the scale from 100W to 10KW. I will also discuss the off-grid powering of the blue economy applications, including seawater desalination, marine communication, and ocean observations. By making dual usage of wave energy harvesting for vibration control, we also can significantly reduce the offshore wind turbine platform vibration. Some preliminary results on this topic will be presented. Finally, I will summarize the talk with my vision of energy harvesting research in four promising directions: marine energy harvesting, self-powered vibration control, small scale energy harvesting for sensing and IoT, and energy harvesting materials.
Lei Zuo is the Robert E. Hord Jr. Professor at Virginia Tech and Chief Research Scientist in the Energy and Environment Directorate at PNNL. He also directs the NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, a consortium with three sites at Virginia Tech, Columbia University, and Penn State University. His research interest includes marine and hydrokinetic energy, energy harvesting, self-powered sensors, vibration control, mechatronics design, and advanced manufacturing. His research has been funded NSF, DOE, ONR, US Army, DOT, EPA, USAID, NY/VA states as well as industry. He has authored over 300 papers, including seven with best paper and three with best student paper awards. He has advised 16 PhD and over 40 Master to completion of their degrees and mentored over 10 postdocs. He completed his Ph.D. from MIT and is a Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Prof. Zuo has received several prestigious awards for his research, including two R&D 100 Awards (2015 and 2011) as PI by R&D Magazine, the 2017 ASME Leonardo Da Vinci Award for “eminent achievement in the design or invention of a product which is universally recognized as an important advance in machine design” and the 2015 ASME Thar Energy Design Award for “pioneering research in energy engineering, especially at large energy scale.” He was also selected for the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award by SAE in 2014.