NREL’s newly patented technology will generate electricity from ocean waves, lab claims

This novel technology can be built in many ways, even like a snake.
Nergis Firtina
Patented wave energy technology


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has revealed a breakthrough technology with wave energy.

The lab claims that with this new technology, electricity can be produced from waves and even from clothes, and cars.

NREL — which specializes in the research and development of renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy systems integration, and sustainable transportation — has already taken out the patent of its unique distributed embedded energy converter technologies (DEEC-Tec).

Thanks to DEEC-Tec, the company believes that one day it may bring freshness to the energy sector.

NREL’s newly patented technology will generate electricity from ocean waves, lab claims
A newly patented technology.

Before we scrutinize this newly patented technology, let's go back a bit and understand what DEEC-Tec is.

"The DEEC-Tec domain centers on combining many small energy converters into a single structure that harvests a much broader range of ocean wave energy than conventional approaches," briefly explains NREL.

Flexible ocean wave energy converters, flexWECs in short, are one of the prominent features of DEEC-Tec. Through the use of several tiny dispersed embedded energy converters, such devices can stretch, twist, bend, expand, or experience other structural deformations that allow them to harvest energy from the motion of ocean waves.

“The DEEC-Tec domain has legs and is growing,” said Blake Boren, a senior engineer at the NRL, and the lead inventor on the patent along with Jochem Weber, chief engineer for NREL’s water power program.

“The patent shows that we’re gaining momentum in a fruitful area of research,” Boren added.

How does this domain work?

In this technology, individual energy converters work together. Most devices use a single generator to convert ocean energy into usable, clean, and renewable energy sources such as electricity. DEEC-Tec, on the other hand, combines many tiny converters to form a larger, often flexible energy converter.

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“DEEC-Tec gives researchers and developers an entirely new way of thinking about how to convert marine energy from ocean waves, tides, and currents into more usable forms of energy, such as electricity,” Boren added.

NREL’s newly patented technology will generate electricity from ocean waves, lab claims
DEEC-Tec can be built into numerous shapes, like snakes and balloons, to capture energy from a wide range of ocean environments.

A big innovation: FlexWECs

FlexWECs are at the forefront of the technology that will enable this wave energy generation.

FlexWECs are able to capture and transform waves into useful energy over their whole structure. Therefore, energy converters will be there to convert wave energy into electricity regardless of where or how it interacts with a device's structure.

FlexWECs avoid building up ocean wave forces that may possibly cause the machine to shut down or be damaged since they do not concentrate ocean wave energy into a single energy converter or one power transmission system.

“One day, there could be DEEC-Tec-based marine renewable energy farms off the coast of California, Oregon, or Washington, with these types of wave energy converters potentially powering coastal communities or the utility grid at large,” Boren said.

Sustainable and cheaper

DEEC-Tec’s flexible archetypes could offer an especially cost-effective way to harness wave energy. Furthermore, FlexWECs are simpler to deploy and manage once they are in the ocean since they may be constructed from more affordable, environmentally friendly materials.

NREL researchers are continuing to improve this newly patented technology. “The patent gives further credence as to what DEEC-Tec could become,” Boren said.

“Now, we have a patented foundation to further develop and promote DEEC-Tec both within NREL and with our external collaborators and industry.”

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