Wave Energy Conversion Buoy for Deployment at the Appledore Island Site Off the Isle of Shoals

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Nate Bent University of New Hampshire
Nathaniel Brown University of New Hampshire
Corin Craig University of New Hampshire
Molly Curran University of New Hampshire
Pedro Da Masceno University of New Hampshire
Andrew Diorro University of New Hampshire
Kaare Francis University of New Hampshire
Ryan Kirby University of New Hampshire
John Pauley University of New Hampshire
Jeff Sweeny University of New Hampshire

Faculty Advisors:

Kenneth Baldwin UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
M. Robinson Swift UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Corey Sullivan University of New Hampshire
The Wave Energy Conversion Buoy (WECB) is a senior design project in the Undergraduate Ocean Research Program (TECH 797). The WECB team’s goal is to design and construct a point absorber wave energy device, which will generate electrical power from ocean waves. A point absorber buoy generates power by using the relative motion between two buoys (the middle spar buoy and the follower “donut” buoy) to drive a dual rack and pinion gear system that in turn spins a generator. The intent of the project is to demonstrate wave energy as a viable source of renewable energy for powering the Shoals Marine Laboratory located on Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals, off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire.
The power take off was designed using a dual rack and pinion system utilizing clutch bearings and a flywheel to keep the generator spinning the same direction along the entire period of the passing wave. The follower buoy dimensions were optimized measuring 5’ in diameter and 18” high that resulted in a 1.9 second damped natural period average in order to increase the responsiveness. An onboard and remote data acquisition system was developed to record power output of generator onto an SD card via an Arduino Uno and a GSM shield was utilized to also remotely monitor the power output of the generator during deployments.
The 2013/2014 WECB was deployed to test its performance as well as a mooring system that consisted of a pressure transducer which was used to calculate an energy spectra to compare the available power in the waves to the power output by the generator. Those parameters were used to calculate a water to wire efficiency. The 2014/2015 WECB was later deployed using the NOAA vessel, Cocheco. The buoy was towed during transportation which resulted in a mechanical failure making the first deployment unsuccessful. A second deployment will be scheduled making sure the buoy is deployed via a vessel equipped with an A-frame. The 2014/2015 WECB goal is to reach a 20% water to wire efficiency.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Wave energy conversion buoy for deployment at the Appledore Island site off the Isle of Shoals (2015). Nate Bent, Nathaniel Brown, Corin Craig, Molly Curran, Pedro Da Masceno, Andrew Diorro, Kaare Francis, Ryan Kirby, John Pauley and Jeff Sweeny. Advisors: Kenneth Baldwin, M. Robinson Swift and Corey Sullivan.