This E-Team developed a novel, contactless, magnet-based buoy to capture the ocean's wave energy and convert it into electrical energy. By "contactless" the team means that previous buoy designs have used hydraulic or pneumatic approaches, which create physical contact between the piston and cylinder, leading to system damage during rough storms as well as decreased efficiency, while their design employs magnets for contactless mechanical energy transmission. The magnets are configured in a piston, producing radial magnetic flux that transmits a generator load to the cylinder; the motion of the piston is transformed to rotation using a ball screw to drive the permanent magnet rotary generator. Thick cables attached to the bottom of the buoy connect it to an electrical grid on the mainland.
The team created a proof-of-concept prototype that showed an overall system efficiency of 70-80%. The goal of this grant was not so much to commercialize a product immediately, but to further prototype and test their design to enable commercial-scale devices in the future.