This week, researchers from the University of Porto, Portugal, presented their novel triboelectric nanogenerator technology at the Energy Storage and Conversion virtual conference. The generators harvest energy from the motion of waves, and can be used to power navigation buoys during marine exploration projects.
While typical power generation methods such as photovoltaic panels or wind turbines can prove problematic for marine exploration purposes – being dependent on the intermittent sources of sun and wind – the motion of waves is constant, and so provides a viable alternative. The team at Porto has tapped into this potential, developing rolling spherical triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) that can be integrated directly into buoys and provide electricity to the units.
The new approach can reportedly produce higher power outputs, and would benefit the industry in being able to power remote, offshore sites. They can also be used in addition to traditional energy harvesting technologies.
A paper on the new technology was originally published in February this year, detailing the results of three TENGs developed and tested in both ‘dry’ and sea-state conditions. The report concluded the work ‘opens new horizons and strategies to apply TENGs in marine applications’, though it also noted the dependency of electrical outputs on marine behaviour.
“The development of wave energy converters has not yet reached its full potential due to the lack of technological consensus, uncompetitive energy generation costs, and the irregular and low-frequency nature of waves at sea,” said Cátia Rodrigues, who presented the technology at the recent conference.
“Concerning wave energy, some relevant challenges still exist to the viable deployment of conversion technologies, mostly linked to the irregular nature of waves and the distribution of energy in both direction and frequency,” she added.
The next step for the team is reportedly to deploy a prototype in the Portuguese sea port of Figueira da Foz, testing the product’s efficacy in real life conditions.