Research, Technology & Innovation
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Harnessing the Power of the Waves
Entrepreneurs DON RESIO, MICHELLE VIERA
Company SEA’S THE FUTURE
Sea’s the Future, out of the University of North Florida, aims to generate electricity using industrialscale bladders to harness power from waves or tides.
Company President Don Resio, who retired in June as a professor at UNF and the director of the Taylor Engineering Research Institute, served as the senior technologist for the Army Corps of Engineers Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory for 16 years. An Army program used such bladders for a bridging system to get rapid access to hard-to-reach coastal and river areas in an emergency.
Resio worked to adapt the concept for power generation with then UNF grad student Michelle Viera. It led to UNF obtaining a patent on it. It also has applied for U.S. patents on key components.
Such a system could supply power for desalinization plants, which use a lot of energy, and function even in moderate tidal ranges. (While Florida tidal ranges tend toward the small relative to other areas, they still maintain significant power production along the east coast.)
Proven at lab scale, the next step is a demonstration project that Resio estimates will cost around $300,000 for a wave system and $400,000 for tides.
Florida’s awash in ideas to generate power from the sea, but none so far has generated revenue. The research by Viera, who now is part of Sea’s the Future, showed that at scale, the bladder system can pay off, Resio, 74, says. “I’m 99% certain it’s going to work,” he says.