Building an affordable model wave energy converter using a magnet and a coil

(1) Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, Honolulu, Hawaii
Cover photo for Building an affordable model wave energy converter using a magnet and a coil
Image credit: Joshua Smith

Locally produced, renewable energy is of paramount importance for Hawaiʻi and other island communities to secure a sustainable future. Hawaiʻi, which has the highest electricity prices in the United States, is also the most petroleum-dependent state in the nation. Existing solutions like solar and wind power can only generate energy 20-30% of the time. In contrast, the ocean can generate power 90% of the time, making it a much more reliable source of clean energy. This project investigates an affordable, small-scale model wave energy converter (WEC) that can convert the potential energy in waves into electricity. Oscillating water levels from waves can be used to move a magnet through a coil using a float to produce electricity, employing Faradayʻs Law of Induction. We attached a fishing float to a neodymium magnet that moved through a coil to induce a voltage inside a fabricated wave tank. We tested coil diameter, wave amplitude, the number of coil turns, the number of magnets, and corrosion to observe their effects on the device’s energy output. We found that increasing all variables aside from corrosion led to an increase in voltage and current production. We increased the coil diameter, the number of coil turns, and the number of magnets to produce 92.6 mV and 61.0 mA compared to the original 3.5 mV and 1.9 mA. This device demonstrates Faraday’s Law of Induction in action while generating energy using waves. Wave energy is a promising and underexplored resource that can mitigate the reliance on fossil fuels in Hawaiʻi and other island communities.

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