Hats off to the DOE, Navy and National Labs

Over the past year our team has been hard at work on our entry into the US Department of Energy's Wave Energy Prize competition.  The prize was intended to be challenging and to push us to the limits of our capabilities.  Our team, along with 8 others, has passed through a series of stage gate reviews including an original technical design package which has followed us through the competition and continues to evolve, a series of numerical model simulations and 1:50th scale modeling verification of those results, and recent preparation for 1:20th scale model testing to be completed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's MASK wave basin

Teams have worked closely with the DOE's Wind and Water Power Technologies office and their subcontractors.  This collaborative work has provided guidance to teams regarding concept feasibility, numerical modeling procedures, performance verification procedures, scale model best practices, and scale model test coordination.  I would guess that between the bi-weekly conference calls, group presentations, and other communications we've had over 200 hours of direct collaboration thus far. 

Sounds time consuming, right?  The long hours aren't so much of a bear if you can step back and see a big, shiny pot-of-gold at the end of tunnel.  For us, that pot-of-gold is the $2.25M in prize money and the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a nascent industry with immense potential.  That's a pretty cool motivator.

But, my last week spent with the folks at the NSWC's Carderock naval facility has me thinking about the hard work of those behind the scenes that have made the Wave Energy Prize a reality.  Though optimizing a novel wave energy device in order to have a valid entry into the competition was a lot of work, planning, funding and launching a competition intended to provide breakthroughs in wave energy must have required 10X that effort.  And while our initial technical design package pushed us to the limit, the review and judging of those document was also no easy task.  And there were 63 teams which submitted packages!  And though performing numerical model simulations and taking part in 1:50th scale modeling was challenging, exponentially more so was the development of a set of computation tools that enabled teams to do just that, and the preparation and coordination of 5 wave tank facilities across the nation that hosted teams in Stage 2 of the competition.  And for all the work coordinating the 1:20th scale modeling, we should keep in mind that the WEPrize team has done all the same amount of collaboration with each of the other 8 teams.  You are starting to get the picture I'm sure.

Most impressively, these folks are doing so without the pot-of-gold at the end of tunnel.  Largely behind the scenes, they aren't hoping for wealth or fame as a result of their support of this competition and industry in general.  They are, instead, motivated by professional devotion.  Maybe they have a passion for what they do.  Or maybe it is a personal commitment to their country or the social cause of renewable energy.  Whatever it is, I'm all for it and have to take my hat off.  If any of the developers participating in this challenge are able to achieve their aspirations it is only because of the hard work of the many selfless, talented individuals who have contributed behind the scenes.  So, I just want to call attention to the work of a few here.

Sandia National Laboratories, Water Program

Among many others; Jesse Roberts, Diana Bull, Kelly Ruehl, Vince Neary, Carlos Michelin, et al..  Their motto is accurate: "Enabling a successful water power industry".  They have produced a prolific number of publications in both technical and commercial topics related to wave energy over the past 5 years. 

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Water Power Research

Michael Lawson, Yi-Hsiang Yu, Nathan Tom, Jochem Weber, Al Levecchi, Daniel Laird, et al..  Same as the folks from Sandia;  a tremendous amount of background work in market analysis, risk mitigation, research and development, and modeling tools.  Most notably, the work performed in collaboration with Sandia on the WEC-SIM suite of computational modeling tools.

DOE, Wind and Water Power Program

Jose Zayas, Allison LaBonte, Darshawn Karwat, et al..  The champions of the water power industry in the US.  They are responsible for implementation of the DOE's commitment to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides.




Wes Scharmen, Julie Zona, Phil Michael, et al..  The prime contractor to the DOE.  Ricardo folks continue to do a spectacular job administering, guiding and judging the competition. 

US Navy, Carderock Division

David Newborn, Miguel Quintaro, et al..  Right not this team is in the middle of eight straight weeks of twelve hour days in which they are certifying team's 1:20th scale models and managing the wave tank testing of those models.  They have done a top notch job making sure that all of the teams are prepared for final testing and have reliable methods of measuring power absorbed.