M3 tests wave technology, seeks funding

M3 Wave Energy Systems' power-generating device sits out of site on the ocean floor.

M3 Wave Energy Systems' power-generating device sits out of site on the ocean floor.

Corvallis-based M3 Wave Energy Systems debuted its power-generating technology last week at the Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University.

As testing wrapped up for the company’s undersea device, the demo marked a new push for funding as M3 looks to an in-ocean pilot. The Oregon company is also making note of an uncertain future as opportunities in wave energy still appear most favorable abroad.

M3 Wave is comprised of principals Mike Morrow, Mike Delos-Reyes, and Mike Miller. All three are Oregonians committed to wave energy development off the state’s famous coast.

Their so-called DMP device technology — it stands for Delos-Reyes Morrow Pressure device — is cleverly simple. Unlike floating buoys or Aquamarine Power’s signature "Oyster" design, both proposed in Oregon, M3'S design doesn’t pierce the surface of the ocean or impact coastal views. Instead, it sits on the ocean floor at depths between 50 and 100 feet. It generates power by responding to water pressure from the waves above, which alternately inflate and deflate a pair of airbags that turn a central turbine to generate power.

The design was conceived by Morrow and Delos-Reyes 20 years ago. As OSU students, they built the first prototype with Dairy Queen spoons, an old Sony Walkman processor and tough plastic bags from the school cafeteria.

The current prototype is one sixth of the final scale, but DMP technology purports a relatively small footprint and the ability to interlock units, fitting as many as 20 to 50 devices in the same space of a buoy footprint, according to Delos-Reyes.

It was designed with Oregonians in mind, and will likely cull some favor with a coastal community that’s pushed, at least in planning talks, to preserve views of the Pacific Ocean as wave tech deploys here. M3 officials point out that DMP is a submerged technology, safe from storms and wind impacts, and has the potential to limit conflicts with fisherman and marine life. That the device's output can be throttled on the fly, and it contains no hydraulic fluids, are also among selling points.

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Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.


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