ME Professor Reza Alam and Team Among Finalists for Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Congratulations to ME Professor Reza Alam, along with team members Devin Bisconer, Victor Pucci and Marcus Lehmann, on becoming one of the three final teams in the running to win the Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development! The Odebrecht Award "invites university students nationwide to join us in the search for innovative technologies and methods to promote sustainable and responsible development. The Odebrecht Organization recognizes the importance of integrating sustainability into the core of our business."


Here's a little bit about the project, the WaveCarpet, that placed this amazing team in the Top 3:


The world’s energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040 (EIA, 2013). With the global population forecasted to increase 33% by 2050 and over 50% by 2100 (Gerland et al., 2014), the rate of world energy consumption is expected to continue to rise. Island nations and coastal communities represent nearly 40% of the world’s population and will be most susceptible to increasing energy demands (SEDAC).

The WaveCarpet team developed an innovative technology to harness the enormous amount of energy in ocean waves and convert it into electricity and freshwater. The core innovation of the WaveCarpet is the ability to mimic wave absorption similar to a muddy seafloor, to extract energy of waves passing overhead within only a few wavelengths. This energy drives hydraulic cylinders, which in turn create pressurized water. The high-pressure water pumped can be supplied to desalination plants. Up to 50% of the costs of desalination plants is used to generate electricity to produce high-pressure water. The WaveCarpet alleviates this cost by directly providing high-pressure water.

Furthermore, the WaveCarpet team has successfully navigated the first technology gate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wave Energy Prize to become official qualified teams. The 20 qualified teams, selected from the field of 92 official registered teams announced on July 6, will continue their quest to double the energy captured from ocean waves. The design-build-test competition is encouraging the development of game-changing wave energy conversion (WEC) devices that will achieve the DOE’s goal of doubling energy captured, which will in turn reduce the cost of wave energy, making it more competitive with traditional energy solutions.