The purpose of this project is to develop and validate an autonomous, robust, and self-contained micro-grid and power management system for deployment in remote communities or disaster relief situations that is capable of use with any renewable energy source. The Integrated Combined Energy (ICE) Box is capable of accepting “wild” AC or DC power from virtually any renewable energy source (wave, tidal, river, wind, solar, etc.) and manages this into both 120-V, 60-Hz output power and battery-stored DC power. The system will be capable of fulfilling essential roles in both scenarios (remote community and disaster response) such as lighting, desalination for clean drinking water, and powering communications (radio, charging cell phones, etc.).
This project leverages work from the Waves2Water HERO WEC project, in which a similar system has been built for a wave energy desalination application. This project further develops and validates the system through an assessment and redesign of the current solution to increase the usability, enhance system robustness and performance, and optimize the control strategy for the varied energy sources. The ICE Box’s performance is to be validated for different applications using a variety of renewable energy sources (wind, wave, river, and solar).
ICE Box has the potential to facilitate greater adaptation of renewable energy resources in remote areas with the opportunity for direct, positive impact on remote communities both in the United States and globally as such communities usually rely on diesel generators for electrical power which increase local emissions and are increasingly more expensive to purchase and transport. The system, once complete, can be deployed in practically any environment, and since it is compatible with a variety of renewable energy resources, it can see widespread use in places where tidal/wave/wind/solar, or a combination thereof, are available.
As demonstrated by the pandemic, when supply chains are impacted, it is the remote communities that can suffer the most with scarcity of supplies, underlining the requirement for local energy sources.
Additionally, as is all too evident in recent years, the number and severity of climate change-related disasters is increasing, and there is an ever-growing need for dedicated response mechanisms that can alleviate suffering and aid in the recovery efforts.
ICE Box has the potential to address this need while supporting marine power technologies continued growth and adoption at the community level by providing near-term, viable energy solutions.