Maynooth University Centre for Ocean Energy Research has been awarded €500,000 under the prestigious US-Ireland Research Programme, a tripartite research and development partnership between the United States of America (USA), Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI).
The project, Control Co-Design for Ocean Wave Energy Conversion, brings together partners from Maynooth University, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the US who will jointly research a significant piece of technology called a wave energy converters (WECs) and help to make them more commercially attractive.
Along the long coastlines of the US, Ireland, and the UK, there is vast but untapped marine hydrokinetic energy, especially from ocean waves. According to a 2021 study by the US Department of Energy, the ‘technically recoverable’ potential of wave energy is 1,400 TWh each year. If only 5% of that potential was recovered, 65 million homes could be powered by wave energy.
The award is one of 12 projects funded under the €21m joint investment announced under the US-Ireland Research & Development Programme. It marks the highest number of annual awards ever made through the programme, which came about as a result of the Good Friday Agreement. and this year spans 27 research institutions, supports more than 35 research positions in the Republic of Ireland, and over 25 research positions in Northern Ireland, for three to five years. The funded projects include research in the areas of energy storage and conversion, wearable health diagnostics, 5G/6G communications and quantum networks.
Professor Philip Nolan, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, welcomed the announcement, stating: “The growth of the US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme since its inception, highlights the significant value of our international collaborations. I am particularly pleased to see the evolution of a number of the groups that have now won multiple US-Ireland awards. I am delighted to congratulate the award recipients and their collaborators on their work which spans both fundamental and applied research and has the potential to greatly benefit our collective societies and economies.”
The Programme is supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB) in the Republic of Ireland; the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA; and the Department for the Economy (DfE) and the Health & Social Care R&D Division in Northern Ireland.
Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation, Dr Sethuraman Panchanathan, said: "The US-Ireland R&D Partnership program plays an important role in pushing the boundaries of frontier research beyond any borders. This unique research partnership model aims to generate, at speed and scale, valuable discoveries and innovations which are transferable to the marketplace or will lead to enhancements in health, climate resilience and telecommunications to improve our world. I congratulate the awardees and look forward to seeing how their outcomes contribute to successfully addressing global challenges."
Mark Lee, Interim Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland, said: “International research partnerships have a key role to play in driving forward Northern Ireland’s vision for a ‘10x Economy’ to deliver economic prosperity and a better quality of life for all our people. The US-Ireland R&D Partnership, as a flagship trans-Atlantic initiative, is playing a crucial role in the delivery of this vision, supporting Northern Ireland-based researchers to make a global impact through the development of new and ground-breaking technologies that can benefit all right across society.”
Prof John Ringwood, Department of Electronic Engineering and Director at the Maynooth University Centre for Ocean Energy Research, Control Co-Design for Ocean Wave Energy Conversion in partnership with: Dr Madjid Karimirad, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland; Prof Lei Zuo, University of Michigan, and Prof Danesh Tafti, Virginia Tech, US.
Along the long coastlines of the US, Ireland, and the UK, there is vast but untapped marine hydrokinetic energy, especially from ocean waves. According to a 2021 study by the US Department of Energy, the ‘technically recoverable’ potential of wave energy is 1,400 TWh each year. If only 5% of that potential is recovered, 65 million homes could be powered by wave energy. To leverage the huge potential of wave energy, various wave energy converters (WECs) have been proposed and tested. Although ocean wave energy technology dates back to 1799 when its first patent was awarded, to date, WEC technologies have not converged: WECs have yet to achieve widespread commercial acceptance. This collaborative research project aims to establish methodologies for an integrated design paradigm for wave energy devices, by testing and validating a radically new control co-design approach to create an innovative combined power take-off and wave capture structure, to significantly improve the efficiency, increase the power output, and decrease the peak-to-average power ratio, helping to make WECs more commercially attractive.