Ride the Electricity Wave

Mar 11, 2016


 *Annette von Jouanne, a pioneer in wave energy. Source: www.smithsonianmag.com

This is part of our ongoing “Unique Ways to Generate Electricity” segment. As we move from Africa’s soccer fields to the oceans of the US, we’re reminded of how one idea can change the world for the better.

Von Jouanne is one of the leaders and pioneers in her field. Wave energy, unlike other forms of power (wind and solar) is always there, even when the waters are calm. Also, unlike wind and solar, the equipment necessary to generate power is much smaller, due to the density of water which produces concentrated energy.  

That energy, however is destructive which is easily seen when witnessing the force of the ocean waves. Not to mention the seaweed, salt water, sea life and more than can interfere with or desroy the equipment. 

All the same, this is arguably the most tempting method of generating electricity one can investigate today, thus Von Jouanne’s passion for the project. Not to say, she did not face her challenges. 

“I knew he made to keep it simple”, Von Jouanne said. 

Her “aha” moment was to create a prototype with only two components. In her most recent prototypes, a thick coil of copper wire is inside the first component, which is anchored to the seafloor. The second comprises of a magnet attached to a float that moves freely with the waves. As the magnet is raised by the waves, its magnetic field moves along the stationary coil of copper wire. This creates electricity. Simple. 

It was only three years ago Von Jouanne had nothing but a shoestring budget to realise a dream. Now she has the government getting behind her prototypes and large companies wanting more involvement. That only bodes well for the future of wave energy. 

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Original story from Smithsonianmag.com – Elizabeth Rusch



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