Inventors of the Month - July 2016

This article was posted on: July 7, 2016

Lei Zuo, Lin Xu, Yilun Liu, and You Wu

“Ocean Wave Energy Harvester Using Mechanical Modified Rectifier”

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Lei Zuo, Lin Xu, Yilun Liu, and You Wu as Inventors of the Month for July 2016 for their invention, “Ocean Wave Energy Harvester Using Mechanical Modified Rectifier,” disclosed to Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc.

image of Wave Energy Harvester

This alternative clean energy technology aims to harness ocean wave energy for human use. Currently, 53 percent of the population lives within 50 miles of the coast, and some estimates suggest nearly two-thirds of total energy production needs could be accomplished using ocean waves.

The innovation at the heart of the invention is a Mechanical Motion Rectifier (MMR) that uses the oscillation of waves to drive a generator with unidirectional rotation, breaking the fundamental challenge of vibration energy harvesting and offering high efficiency, reliability, and compactness.

The device is designed to be placed in the water, much like a buoy, and uses highly efficient power electronics. Energy generation begins almost immediately. The MMR can also be implemented in other types of wave energy generators like wave surge converters.

A prototype has successfully proven the concept in testing off the coast of Long Island, New York, and larger projects funded by DOE are currently in process in which 500W and 10KW ocean wave energy converters using the ball screw mechanism and MMR will be designed and tested.


Image from YouTube video of Wave Energy Harvester

“Wave Energy Project at Virginia Tech“ Youtube video.

Lei ZuoLei Zuo worked in industry and at Stony Brook University before joining Virginia Tech in 2014 as an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering. Zuo’s research focuses on energy harvesting, vibration control, mechatronics design, vehicle dynamics, and advanced sensors. He currently serves as the Associate Director of NSF I/UCRC Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems. He holds five issued US patents and received 2015 and 2011 R&D 100 Awards, nicknamed “Oscar of Inventions,” 2014 ASME Thar Energy Design Award for his pioneering research on large-scale energy harvesting, and 2014 SAE Ralph R. Teertor Educational Award. Zuo was named as a Fellow of ASME in 2016 and currently serves as the technical editor and associate editors of three journals. He has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and eectrical engineering from MIT, and a bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University in China.

You Wu completed his M.S. at Virginia Tech in 2015, Yilun Liu is a current Ph.D. student, and Lin Xu is a post-doc in the Energy Harvesting and Mechatronics Research Lab.

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