An open-water wave energy converter (OWEC) made of a new soft platform has been developed by combining piezoelectric macro-fiber composites (MFCs) and a low-cost elastomer. In the past decades, numerous types of water wave energy conversion platform have been developed and investigated, from buoys to overtopping devices. These harvesters mainly use electromagnetic-based generators, and they have faced challenges such as their enormous size, high deployment and maintenance costs, and negative effects on the environment. These problems hinder their practicality and competitiveness. In this paper, a soft open-water wave energy converter is introduced which integrates piezoelectric MFCs and bubble wrap into an elastomer sheet. The performance of the OWEC was investigated in a wave flume as a floatable structure. The maximum 29.7 µW energy harvested from the small OWEC represents a promising energy conversion performance at low frequencies (<2 Hz). The elastomer was able to protect the MFCs and internal electrical connections without any degradation during the experiment. In addition, the OWEC is a foldable structure, which can reduce the deployment costs in real-world applications. The combination of no maintenance, low fabrication cost, low deployment cost, and moderate energy harvesting capability may advance the OWEC platform to its real-world applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas