Annette von Jouanne and colleagues are working to make Oregon the nation’s wave energy leader.
Note: With deep sadness, we regret to inform readers that Professor Alan Wallace, featured in the story below, passed away June 7 after a long illness. For more information, please read the OSU media release on Professor Wallace’s death. A memorial service is being planned and likely will take place sometime during the week of June 11 – 17. Please call OSU News & Communication Services at 541-737-4611 for more information.
Anyone who’s seen the pounding surf at the Oregon coast knows the power of the ocean.
Figuring out how to harness the power and make it productive has long been a challenge, though.
Now Annette von Jouanne and Alan Wallace, her colleague in OSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, are trying to overcome the challenge.
Working with a team of student researchers, and in collaboration with several industry partners and collaborators from other OSU departments, von Jouanne and Wallace are developing direct drive buoys that can turn the power of ocean waves into electrical energy.
Von Jouanne has an exciting vision for the future of the project. “It could be a whole new industry,” she says. “We could be the nation’s wave energy headquarters. In five to 10 years time on the Oregon coast, there could be wave parks generating power back onto the grid and providing jobs for the people living in the region.”
The Oregon coast near Reedsport has been identified as the optimal site in the nation for wave energy development and potentially could provide power to meet about 20 percent of the state’s electricity needs, according to von Jouanne and Wallace.
“Ocean energy is an idea whose time has come, ” says Wallace. “If only point-two-percent of the untapped energy of the oceans could be harnessed, it could generate enough power to supply the entire world.”
Although Wallace and von Jouanne are focused on wave energy, they also are involved in the exploration of other power sources, and they direct the Motor Systems Resource Facility at OSU, the highest-power university-based energy systems laboratory in the country.
In addition to being an outstanding researcher, von Jouanne has been recognized for her teaching. Last year she was named the most outstanding young faculty member in the nation in her field by Eta Kappa Nu, a national honor society for electrical and computer engineers.
“I love the teaching aspect and getting students excited about the research and opportunities,” she says. “This is the starting point of their careers, and we want them to see how exciting the research is, and how it’s not just a job.”