by Dr. Stephen Wood, Ocean Engineering Professor –
Florida Tech rides the waves off of the coast of Florida with the GECCO ocean energy project. Undergraduate Ocean Engineering Students recently deployed a surface ocean energy system to harness the energy from surface ocean waves and swells off the coast of Vero Beach, Florida with the research vessel M/V Thunderforce.
The GECCO (Patent Pending) in its final form will be made up of three, ten-foot sections of fiberglass pipe connected by two joints that bend vertically. As a wave passes, hydraulic rams that are connected to the joints compress and pressure hydraulic fluid that accumulates in an accumulator. Similarly, two pairs of ducks attached to the joints oscillate horizontally in a back and forth motion. The ducks are connected to one way bearings that drive internal pumps. These pump hydraulic fluid into the same accumulator as the hydraulic rams. Once the accumulator reaches a maximum pressure the fluid is released and drives the turbine creating electricity. The estimated weight of the system is about 3,016 lbs with a 1 ft. draft.
Key Words: Ocean Engineering, sustainability of the environment, ocean energy, marine field projects, engineering design showcase.