Ocean Power Technologies gets contract to design sensor buoys for US Navy

Illustration: OPT's PB3 buoy. Photo: Ocean Power Technologies

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded Ocean Power Technologies a contract to design a new mass-spring oscillating PowerBuoy for mission critical sensors for the U.S. Navy.

Under the approx. $250,000 contract, OPT is to design a PowerBuoy which will differ from the current PB3 type in that it will be self-contained and have no external moving components.

Phase one of the contract scope includes the system design and laboratory testing of a proprietary, self-contained, inertia-based, mass-spring oscillator and power take-off (PTO), and for the selection of a station keeping propulsion solution to be integrated into the PowerBuoy.

The contract has options for two subsequent phases, valued together at nearly $750,000, which are dependent upon the successful completion of phase one and additional ONR funding. This future scope would include the detailed design of the entire power conversion system, power generation system, and the PowerBuoy hull, as well as testing of the mass-spring oscillating PTO, and the build and integration of a full PowerBuoy system that is ready for ocean deployment.

Dr. Mike M. Mekhiche, OPT’s Executive Vice President of Engineering and Operations, stated: “This PTO is part of an anchorless, station keeping, low profile PowerBuoy that would power mission critical sensors and the buoy’s control and propulsion systems. The objective of this first phase is to design and optimize the inertia based generation system, evaluate the buoy propulsion system, and carry out performance testing of critical PTO components.”

OPT’s self-contained PowerBuoy concept was first developed to address the Navy’s need for an easily deployable, persistent solution for powering multiple sensors while also responding to other specific mission critical needs. Advantages of this solution concept in security and defense applications are its low profile, and that it can be tailored to meet various mission specifics, including underwater applications. Acoording to the company, this solution concept does not need to be anchored to the ocean floor, making it well suited for rapid deployment without regard to water depth. The expected duration of this first phase of the ONR contract is nine months.

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