MBARI is definitely one of the coolest places someone can work! I was lucky to spend a summer sharing the R&D Machine shop run by Larry Bird and working on Andrew Hamilton's wave energy harvesting project.
The energy system was to power persistently deployed monitoring instruments in the outlying areas of the Monterey Bay. Often maintenance service of these deployed instruments is only to replace batteries. While solar and wind are already incorporated it is not always enough energy. Wave energy is an obvious are of interest for energy scavenging. In our work we evaluated the pressure differential along the path of a vertical profiler instrument that was capable of driving below the surface to 200m against several kilograms of buoyant force. The profiler took advantage of an inertial imbalance between the surface buoy and the profiler, allowing a ratcheting mechanism to drive downward. We investigated multiple pressure differential systems and I designed and built a test bench of a hydraulic accumulator and generator system for a proof of concept analysis. The work is still continuing with funding from DARPA, with the same basic princicples but a more developed design.
- Designed and executed experiments examining the feasibility of renewable wave energy extraction for persistent ocean-based vertical profiling instrumentation.
- Implemented hybrid electro-hydraulic regenerative torque mechanism.
- Scavanged used equipment to build analytic testing platforms.
- Machined and welded test bench equipment.
- Practiced a great deal of welding under the instruction of the fabrication master Larry Bird