By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Though water is the basic molecule necessary for life, it’s also played a big role in generating energy for humanity. First, there was the gear-like water wheel, then there was the steam engine (which really helped kickstart the age of industry). Now, researchers are planning to test what they call the Delos-Reyes Morrow Pressure Device (DMP) – a special underwater machine that’ll generate electricity purely from ocean waves.
Water wheels are wooden structures built beside a source of flowing water, such as a river, so that the current continually pushes them into a spin. As the water wheel turns, it creates mechanical energy by twisting several gears and belts, like the gears inside a clock. This machine dates back to the 3rd century in Greece, and lasted all the way into the 18th century, where it was replaced by the steam engine. This new source of power worked by heating water until it evaporated, then using the steam to turn pistons. The engine was so powerful, it helped kickstart what became known as the Industrial Revolution – a period of time where mass producing goods first boomed.
Now, although we’ve moved away from steam engines to machines that use gas and electricity, these energies are limited and can create pollution. So, getting back to basics (but with a heavy dose of the future), the DMP produces energy on the ocean floor by using the motion of waves passing over its two chambers. Working almost like a mechanical lung, the first chamber’s air is squeezed into the second chamber when a wave pressures it, and then returns when another wave passes. This back and forth turns a wheel-like device called a turbine, producing energy. The great thing about the DMP is that it doesn’t interfere with marine life, is out of view beneath the water, and doesn’t mess with the ocean’s balanced environment.
According to the company working with the DMP, it can produce anywhere between 150 to 500 kilowatts of power, and is ideal for use in disaster situations, powering large ships, or stealth military missions. If all goes as planned, the DMP will be tested this August at the National Guard’s Camp Rilea facility in Oregon.
Images courtesy of M3 Wave.