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Science Nation: Wave Energy

3 minutes

(Describer) Streams of light collide to create a globe filled with water. Title: Science Nation. A large cylinder on a disk is pulled through open water.

(female) What we're looking at is the deployment of our 11th wave energy buoy.

(male narrator) Power from clean and constant ocean waves could help solve the world's energy problems. It hasn't always been easy to generate support for this renewable source.

(Describer) Annette von Jouanne:

In 1998, when I was writing these white papers and proposals, people were saying, "She's crazy. "We can't harness energy from the ocean. It's too harsh of an environment."

(narrator) Before this successful field test off the Oregon coast... Contactors and circuit breakers.

(narrator) Electrical engineer Annette von Jouanne experimented with many technologies.

(Describer) She shows some of them.

This is a linear to rotary system. These were two of those top five built at the 200 watt level.

(narrator) With support from the National Science Foundation, von Jouanne developed many wave energy devices. This design has few moving parts.

(Describer) The buoy.

You have this magnet assembly heaving up and down in the waves, creating this changing magnetic field and the direct conversion of that linear heaving motion of the wave into electrical energy.

(narrator) In the lab, they can mimic the harsh ocean environment.

(Describer) A whale sprays water.

They're also designing systems to minimize harm to marine mammals.

(female) We do have, off the Oregon coast, about 20,000 whales that migrate. So we have experts who are also looking at acoustic avoidance systems that are encouraging the whales to go around these wave installations. Experts say wave energy might one day supply up to 6% of U.S. energy needs. Wave power is available 80% to 90% of the time, twice that of wind or solar.

(female) Fortunately, we are in a climate that people understand the importance of renewable energy technologies.

(narrator) So clean ocean energy may be the wave of the future.

(Describer) A globe turns.

For Science Nation, I'm Miles O'Brien.

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Harnessing energy from the waves of the world’s oceans seems like the ultimate in renewable fuel. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Electrical engineer Annette von Jouanne is leading efforts to capture wave energy, by creating simple, powerful devices that can withstand heavy winds, monster waves, and corrosive salt water. Oregon State University research now underway is based on ocean buoy generators. As ocean swells hit the buoy, electrical coils inside move through a magnetic field, inducing a voltage, and creating electricity.

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 4
4 minutes
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Science Nation
Episode 5
4 minutes
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Episode 6
4 minutes
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Episode 7
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Episode 8
4 minutes
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Episode 9
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Science Nation
Episode 10
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Grade Level: 10 - 12