Charlottesville, VA, United States
Charlottesville, VA, United States

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Patent
Columbia Power Technologies, Llc | Date: 2017-03-15

An apparatus and method for converting wave energy using the relative rotational movement between two interconnected float assemblies and the relative rotational movement between each of the float assemblies and a spar which extends from a connection with the float assemblies at the water surface into the water.


News Article | November 24, 2010
Site: gigaom.com

Columbia Power Technologies believes it has a better way to tap the power of ocean waves for clean energy: Good-bye steel turbines; hello fiberglass, a lighter-weight material that requires less maintenance. The five-year-old startup is now gearing up for the final small-scale test of its generator ahead of a full-scale demonstration project (up to 2 gigawatt-hours) planned for 2012 in Puget Sound, Reenst Lesemann, VP of business  development, tells us. Columbia’s system also employs a rotary design, so energy can be captured from motion in four directions (up, down, side to side) rather than the usual two. In addition, it uses direct-drive systems, which the company says can boost efficiency and further reduce costs by eliminating gearboxes and hydraulics. Of course, like any new technology, this one comes with uncertainty about how it will perform over the course of decades at large scale in a corrosive ocean environment. Hence, the need for the small-scale test and demonstration project. Formed in 2005 as a division of the renewable energy investment firm Greenlight Energy Resources, Columbia’s mission is to develop and commercialize devices for harvesting wave energy off-shore using direct-drive, permanent-magnet generators. The company, which is based in Corvallis, Ore., licensed the basic technology for its system from Oregon State University and began its first in-water tests in 2007. While Columbia’s upcoming test will use a prototype only 11.5 feet tall, the full-scale system is designed to be 80 feet tall. Most of the equipment sits under the water. Waves rotate “wings” around an axis at the top of the device, while a plate at the bottom provides resistance. “We call the device the ‘Manta’ because the motion of the two wings at the top tends to mimic that of a manta ray’s wings,” explained Lesemann. At this point, the company is looking to prove what Lesemann summarized as “survivability and performance.” The grand vision is to have these buoys deployed between one and three miles from shore, aggregating electricity in a central pod on the ocean floor, then transmitting it to an onshore power grid. Fiberglass, like steel, is a “well established, well understood structure for maritime vessels,” said Lesemann. “We saw with steel that you have to pull it out of the water, strip it and repaint,” said Lesemann. That maintenance isn’t necessary with fiberglass, he said, but it presents its own set of hurdles. “There are fewer partners that can make large, odd-shaped fiberglass pieces in remote locations,” said Lesemann. Columbia, which now has 10 full-time employees and about twice as many people working as consultants, believes it has found the partners it needs to grow its wave energy business. Rather than developing projects, Columbia Power, at least at this early stage, aims to provide technology and manufacture the gear. Columbia Power has received $8 million from the Navy and Department of Energy, and it has raised about $2 million from angel and strategic investors, as well as the founders’ own resources. By this time next year, said Lesemann, they hope to double the private investment. For more research on electric cars check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required):


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 499.86K | Year: 2010

Columbia Power has identified a highly-effective wave energy converter that efficiently converts wave motion into rotary motion for conversion to electric power. Prior research by Columbia Power has identified that a power take off (PTO) utilizing rotary direct drive electric generation will provide a cost advantage over other PTO alternatives. The specifications for this direct-drive rotary generator are not satisfied by any existing commercial product, thus a research, design, and demonstration effort is required in order to minimize the commercial risks of developing such a machine. The required direct-drive rotary PTO specifications include high torque, high efficiency, a low friction marine bearing/seal solution, long life in a marine environment, high bearing loads, and a cost effective design.Phase I of the research included electromagnetic modeling, and design investigations of a permanent magnet rotary generator design which incorporates high efficiency, high torque, and a small-air-gap design that prioritizes low material and manufacturing costs. By taking advantage of the low speed (


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.53K | Year: 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has reported that the wave energy resource available in the US has the potential to power over 100 million homes each year, and the DOE is currently developing an aggressive strategy to support its vision of providing 15% of our nations electricity needs from water power by 2030. However, in addition to survivability and impact issues, producing cost-competitive energy from ocean waves presents unique challenges, such as extreme seasonal variations of two orders of magnitude (100x), hourly power variations of a factor of four, and stochastic second-by-second variances that exceed the capabilities of conventional energy and control design strategies. Fully accessing the theoretical potential from this instantaneously variant resource is a complex control problem that has yet to be mastered by existing technologies. To this end, Columbia Power is commercializing a survivable, low-impact and cost-competitive wave energy conversion (WEC) system, the StingRAY, which presently demonstrates (numerically and experimentally) the ability to efficiently extract energy from waves. The goal is to design (Phase I) and demonstrate, in an open-ocean experiment (Phase II), a WEC control strategy that enables StingRAY performance to reach theoretical limits 80% higher than the present baseline. This is achieved by researching, designing, numerically validating (with time domain models) and implementing the most promising novel control strategies, while efficiently analyzing, systematically prioritizing, and selecting the extensive matrix of parameters necessary to confirm results. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits Knowledge gained, modeling approaches, and control strategies developed under this project will provide practical paths to numerically optimizing WEC controls. The project will share academic and theoretical findings of significance that benefit most other wave energy technologies and will potentially apply to other industrial controls, such as wind, marine current, and various automation applications. By advancing the Columbia Power WEC through control optimization, a material improvement in annualized power output can make the reduction in levelized cost of energy a practical objective and bring WEC technologies closer to commercialization. The delivery and consumption of wave-generated electricity is beneficial in many ways. In addition to the reduced reliance on legacy base-load resources and foreign energy imports combined with the increased supply of clean, renewable electricity, WEC commercialization will benefit a number of strategically and economically important industries throughout the US, including ship-building, marine construction/operations and heavy equipment manufacturing. Another beneficiary is the US DOD, which is required to procure 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. According to a 2010 announcement by the Secretary of Navy, half of the Navys total energy consumption ashore by 2020 will come from alternative sources; the Navy will make half of its installations net-zero energy consumers, using solar, wind, ocean, and geothermal power generated on base.


Patent
Columbia Power Technologies, Llc | Date: 2010-02-22

An apparatus and method for converting wave energy using the relative rotational movement between two interconnected float assemblies and the relative rotational movement between each of the float assemblies and a spar which extends from a connection with the float assemblies at the water surface into the water.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2010

Columbia Power has identified a highly effective wave energy converter that efficiently converts wave motion into rotary motion for conversion to electric power. Prior research by Columbia Power has identified that a power take off (PTO) utilizing rotary direct drive electric generation will provide a cost advantage over other PTO alternatives. The specifications for this direct drive rotary generator are not satisfied by any existing commercial product, thus a research, design, and demonstration effort is required in order to minimize the commercial risks of developing such a machine. The required direct drive rotary PTO specifications include high torque, high efficiency, a low friction marine bearing/seal solution, long life in a marine environment, high bearing loads, and a cost effective design. How Problem is addressed: Phase I of the research will include electromagnetic modeling, and design investigations of a permanent magnet rotary generator design which incorporates high efficiency, high torque, and a small air gap design that prioritizes low material and manufacturing costs. Several design concepts are proposed and will be investigated; the most promising will be designed for scaled prototype build and analysis. The generator design will include practical material and manufacturability limitations imposed by our composites manufacturing partner (Ershigs Inc.) and essential electromagnetic design priorities imposed by constrain costs. Phase II of the research will include a scaled build and testing including a detailed cost analysis of a full scale design. Phase 2 would complete with a full scale design of a demonstration device. Following full scale test and validation of the generator, this technology will be deployed in the Columbia Power wave energy buoy. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Low speed and high torque is a common characteristic for the prime mover of renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal, and wave energy. These systems will benefit from a cost effective rotary generator solution. If the electromagnetic and interface design concepts proposed in this project can be implemented in a cost effective way, significant cost reductions will be realized for these renewable energy systems.


Patent
Columbia Power Technologies, Llc | Date: 2013-09-30

An apparatus and method for converting wave energy using the relative rotational movement between two interconnected float assemblies and the relative rotational movement between each of the float assemblies and a spar which extends from a buoyant nacelle having a central longitudinal axis wherein the floats are nestable behind the buoyant nacelle.


An apparatus and corresponding method for maintaining an air gap between a stator and rotor in an electro-mechanical energy converter is provided. The apparatus includes a structural sleeve and a plurality of stator sections attached to an inner surface of the structural sleeve. A hub is enclosed by the structural sleeve and is concentric with the structural sleeve. A plurality of rotor sections is flexibly coupled to the hub and is enclosed by the structural sleeve. A rail system is positioned within the structural sleeve and is concentric with the structural sleeve. The rail system guides the rotor sections in a substantially circular path and defines an air gap between the plurality of stator sections and plurality of rotor sections.


Patent
Columbia Power Technologies, Llc | Date: 2012-10-22

An apparatus and method for converting wave energy using the relative rotational movement between two interconnected float assemblies and the relative rotational movement between each of the float assemblies and a spar which extends from a connection with the float assemblies at the water surface into the water.


Patent
Columbia Power Technologies, Llc | Date: 2013-08-12

An apparatus and method for converting wave energy using the relative rotational movement between two interconnected float assemblies and the relative rotational movement between each of the float assemblies and a spar which extends from a connection with the float assemblies at the water surface into the water.

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