- Ocean wave energy
- Wind energy and energy storage
- Power electronics
- Power systems and power quality
- Adjustable speed drives
Since 1998, OSU has made great strides to develop a strong program to advance wave energy technologies and the industry, including educating engineers on the importance of responsibly developing renewable resources.
Efforts included building strong support for wave energy at the state and federal levels, in addition to building essential collaborations with industries, utilities and the communities along with outreach to the ocean community of fishermen and crabbers.
OSU has investigated a variety of different direct-drive wave energy technologies, collaborating on the development of 11 different prototypes.
OSU’s direct-drive research has been focused on a simplification of processes, i.e., replacing systems employing intermediate hydraulics or pneumatics with direct-drive approaches to allow generators to respond directly to the movement of the ocean. The term “direct” drive describes the direct coupling of the buoy's velocity and force to the generator without the use of hydraulic fluid or air. OSU’s direct-drive approaches have included devices employing magnetic fields for contact-less mechanical energy transmission (flux-linkage), forms of mechanical linkages, and hybrids.
OSU's continuing wave energy technology research is multi-faceted, including partnering with developers in a supporting/research role to assist in the development of full-scale (utility-scale) wave energy devices. As device power levels approach utility-scale, it is no longer appropriate (or safe) for graduate students to be leading these efforts as part of their M.S. or Ph.D. thesis research. Therefore, OSU’s technology development will focus on the 100W - 10kW range. OSU is currently developing a 12th wave energy buoy prototype, a contactless force transmission system (at the 200W level), and is also collaborating with developers that are pursuing full-scale applications.
The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC)
Since 2004, OSU has made strong efforts to establish a National Marine Renewable Energy Center in Oregon, which was awarded by the USDOE in September 2008 through the Water Power Program. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) is led by Oregon State University (OSU, wave), the University of Washington (UW, tidal) and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). NNMREC is a USDOE center to develop a full range of capabilities to support wave and tidal energy development for the United States. NNMREC will help move the generation of marine energy from the laboratory to an integral part of the renewable energy future.
The mission of NNMREC is to support the commercialization of marine energy technology, inform regulatory and policy decisions, and to close key gaps in scientific understanding. Primary center activities include: 1) development of facilities to serve as an integrated, standardized test center for U.S. and international developers of wave and tidal energy; 2) evaluation of potential environmental, ecosystem and social impacts, focusing on the compatibility of marine energy technologies in areas with sensitive environments and existing users; 3) device and array optimization for effective deployment of wave and tidal energy technologies; and 4) increased reliability and survivability of marine energy systems.
Wind and Energy Storage:
OSU’s WESRF is advancing research on wind energy integration through more effective coordination of traditional generation resources and energy storage systems (including analysis and control) that can optimize wind energy production while also increasing the predictability of wind farm outputs. An in-lab research grid was designed and constructed, supported by a 480V, 750 kVA dedicated utility supply. The in-lab grid features emulation of several high-power grid sources and loads, including a wind farm, energy storage system, hydro resources, and local loads. The energy storage system is a 25 kW, 50 kWh zinc bromine flow battery made by ZBB.
The wind farm is emulated using an Arbitrary Waveform Generator (AWG), which functions as a 120 kVA externally controlled source.
Applications of Research:
Exploring opportunities to improve the overall contribution of renewables, such as wind and wave, to renewable energy portfolios.