Summary Report: October 5, 2021 Workshop on Materials & Manufacturing for Marine Energy Technologies

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To achieve commercial success, marine energy technologies must be more cost-competitive and reliable to compete with other energy sources.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) invests in research and development activities that could lead to new low-cost, high-quality materials and manufacturing methods to build competitive marine energy technologies. WPTO works with marine energy stakeholders to identify research gaps, challenges, and investment opportunities in these two areas.

Virtual Materials and Manufacturing Workshop - October 2021

On October 5, 2021, WPTO invited members from academia and industry to discuss research and development gaps and opportunities for investments in wave and current energy technologies. In 2022, WPTO published a report summarizing this discussion.

Summary Report Findings

The Materials and Manufacturing workshop featured presentations on marine energy materials research projects from nine industry and academic representatives. (Each are detailed in the report).

Attendees also participated in three breakout discussions—Wave Energy Converter Needs, Tidal and Current Energy Converter Needs, and Unconventional Wave Energy Converters and Other Needs—after which they identified several critical short- and long-term investments needed for these three device types.

Some of the common gaps identified included the following areas:

  • Accelerated prototype manufacture/rapid prototyping to reduce device deployment time
  • Manufacturing supply chain issues, including factors such as scale, location, and availability of production capacity

Additional needs are summarized in the table below.

Area Wave Energy Converter Current Energy Converter Unconventional Wave Energy Converter
Materials Selection
  • Polymers
  • Ceramics for bearings
  • Coatings
  • Sealing solutions
  • Flexible materials
  • Concrete
  • Coatings
  • Flexible materials
  • Composites/fiber sizing
  • Adhesives and joints
  • Novel nanomaterials for monitoring
  • Composites
  • Polymers
  • Adhesives
  • Coatings
  • Flexible materials
  • Concrete
Testing
  • Strength and edge abrasion (particularly of ropes) 
  • Fatigue
  • Recyclability of polymer-based materials 
  • Corrosion, biofouling, true environmental conditions
  • Sensor development
  • Complementary test centers 
  • Strength, fatigue, and analysis of water permeating composites
  • Recyclability of polymer-based materials
  • Corrosion, biofouling, true environmental conditions
  • Complementary test centers
  • Standard test protocols including accelerated testing
  • Strength and fatigue
  • Corrosion, biofouling, true environmental conditions
  • Sensor development
Modeling
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Composites
  • Strength/fatigue/loading
  • Strength, fatigue, loading, biofouling, corrosion
  • Fluid-structure interaction and life-cycle analysis
  • Machine learning methods and high-performance computing
  • Loading
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Biofouling
Manufacturing
  • Advance manufacturing of components 
  • Composites manufacturing
  • Automation
  • Additive manufacturing 
  • Faster and more economical manufacturing processes
  • Composites
  • Novel material manufacturing and automation
  • Machine learning for component-level manufacturing
  • Better understanding of properties for different materials
  • Composites
  • Additive manufacturing
Other
  • Add a materials and manufacturing requirement to new awards and consider providing resources to existing awards
  • Potential to leverage insights from other industries
  • Improved cost-effective options to accelerate and improve prototyping
  • Potential to leverage insights from other industries
  • Investigation into the recyclability of polymer-based materials

Capturing input from industry and academic partners is essential to identify current gaps and opportunities for R&D investments for marine energy technologies. WPTO aims to support its partners to fill these gaps and overcome obstacles that hinder marine energy devices from reaching commercial viability.