RME commences prototype tests on the AirWEC

January 12, 2009
Today RME commenced sea-based preparations for the deployment of an innovative wave energy converter (WEC) in the Gulf of Maine two miles east of the northern tip of Plum Island in Newburyport, MA. The WEC deployment will cap six months of research and development supported by a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The goal of the project is to demonstrate the feasibility of the WEC for a specific application - producing compressed air for use in offshore fish farming

The project leader is Ocean Farm Technologies. Inc. (OFT), a company based in Searsmont, ME that manufactures aquaculture systems for open-ocean fish farming. Partnering with OFT and RME on the project is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA

The WEC design is an adaptation of systems being developed by RME for various offshore power applications. Normally, such systems are designed to generate electricity, so the air compressor feature of this project is unique. "These are exactly the kind of offshore power solution challenges we want to tackle" RME co-founder Bill Staby said. "To be successful, the burgeoning offshore aquaculture industry needs to automate routine tasks including cage positioning and feeding, and that requires a continuous power supply." "For a variety of reasons including environmental impact and safety, we think wave power is an ideal way to accomplish that and, by their support, others believe that may be true too."