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Waiting for a Wave

May 4th, 2011

By: Jonathan Hiskes

Published: May 3 2011 – 7:14am

Tags: ,

Columbia Power Technologies’ SeaRay wave generator

Ken Rhinefrank stands aboard the crane barge Sea Horse and smacks his hand against the six-ton yellow contraption resting on it like a gigantic dumbbell. “Stronger than steel,” he says.

It’ll have to be. The dumbbell – the SeaRay developed by Oregon startup Columbia Power Technologies – is about to be lowered into Puget Sound in pursuit of a goal that has eluded engineers for decades: generating reliable energy from the waves.

It’s a mother of a technical challenge. A field-tested, commercial-ready wave-energy device – there are only a few in the world – has to withstand the pummeling of wind and surf, the relentless corrosion of saltwater and maybe 300-pound seals that try to sun themselves on its surface.

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