“Our device has the advantage that we do not directly convert into electricity. We can decide ourselves if we want to produce fresh water or electricity,” Lehmann said.
Their carpet-like mechanism, that rises and falls with waves, creates hydraulic pressure, pumping seawater towards the shore.
The pressurized water can be used to run turbines, generating electricity. Or it can be pushed through special membranes that extract the salt to create fresh water.
Lehmann said larger versions of the wave carpet could power small coastal communities. “So in general the available resource of wave energy is in the order of 15 percent of the global energy demand, which is a lot.”
Mechanical engineer Reza Alam said to avoid possible impact on coastal ecosystems, the wave carpet can be deployed in so-called “dead zones” where there is not enough oxygen for marine life to thrive.
“Placing a carpet on the seabed in those locations is definitely absolutely safe to the environment,” he explained.
Alam said only one-square meter of the wave carpet could supply enough power for two typical American homes, which on a larger scale means that the ocean could cheaply power up entire coastal towns.