Science Fair Projects

Autonomous Gyroscopic Ocean-Wave-Powered Generator


The objective: Harnessing ocean power has been a long-sought goal. Existing wave-powered systems are large, land-based or moored, preventing autonomous applications. My goal was to invent a way to efficiently convert ocean wave power to an adaptive, autonomous, easily controlled system. Specifically, I applied gyroscopic precessional torque to convert periodic kinetic energy of surface waves into continuous torque that drives a rotary electric generator.


A prototype was designed, built and tested. All parts were scavenged from electronic equipment or fabricated from scraps. Many components were retooled and optimized. The effect of the gyros#s angular velocity on both generator power output and adaptability to varying wave frequencies was determined. Bench tests recorded output power, gyro angular velocity, generator electrical load and slope frequency. A mathematical model was developed approximating precessional torque as a function of wave frequency and angular momentum of the gyro. A buoy was built, gyro-generator and data recorder installed, and tested at sea.


Data show a direct relationship between gyro rate and output power at all tested wave frequencies. Greater gyro rates allowed the generator to adapt to lower wave frequencies and greater electrical loads. Greatest power (1.9 watts) was generated at the highest gyro velocity (90 r.p.s.) with the largest load (33 Ohms); zero power with gyro stopped. The prototype powered the gyro while delivering 0.6 watts into the load. Sea tests confirmed that precessional torque significantly increased the generator#s power by >8x.


A practical wave energy converter can be built using gyroscopic precessional torque sufficient to run both the gyro and an auxiliary load. It can be electronically controlled to adapt to different wave frequencies. This technology differs from current systems as it is autonomous, compact, avoids corrosion and rough sea damage common when moving parts directly contact seawater, and is scalable to much greater power outputs.

This project is about inventing a new way to mechanically convert ocean wave energy into electricity.

Science Fair Project done By Aaron S. Goldin

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