Tremont Electric, creator of the motion-powered gadget charger, wants to scale up its kinetic energy harvesting tech to turn the Great Lakes into a power plant -- of sorts.
The nPower Wave Energy Converter developed by the Cleveland-based company is about the size of an automobile and can be integrated into buoys. Inside the converter is a magnet, which moves along with an induction coil to generate pulses of current. A mechanical fuse line would runs from the anchor to the buoy as a primary elastic line (see graphic below). That current is then collected at a transfer hub and delivered to the power grid. Voilà, wave-generated electricity for all! Or at least for folks who live nearby.
The tech inside the wave converter is essentially the same as its personal energy generator (PEG), which charges a battery when a magnet, placed between two springs, moves up and down. The PEG device is tuned for walking, but it also has the ability to harvest ambient vibrations from pedaling around on a bike or riding in a car or train.
Founder and CEO Aaron LeMieux says in the video below the wave converter would be commercially viable and able to compete with coal-fired electricity. He claims the wave electricity could be sold at 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt hour. He also sees an opportunity for the devices to be made in Ohio, a state where 10.3 percent of displaced workers have come from the manufacturing industry.
The company proposes anchoring clusters of buoys onto the floor of Lake Erie. According to a recent video produced by the company, testing was supposed to be conducted this past summer.
Of course, even if the tech works, there are numerous challenges to work through before the project would be able to power homes of Ohioans. The buoys might not attract the same NIMBY reaction as offshore wind turbines, but it could face some public backlash. And the company must navigate the permitting process. According to Great Lakes Echo, the company will need submerged land leases, which are regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.