Wave power is looking like the next big thing in renewable energy, as evidenced by PG&E’s recent announcement about their California wave farm. And now Yutaka Terao from Tokai University in Japan, has engineered a way to put wave power to its most obvious use — to power boats! He has created a propulsion system that will power the Suntory Mermaid II’s trip from Hawaii to Japan using wave power, the expertise of eco-sailor Kenichi Horie, and a little bit of sun.
The Suntory Mermaid II will be sailed by everyone’s favorite eco-sailor, Kenichi Horie. Horie will attempt the month’s long trip from Hawaii to Kii Channel in Japan. Although it is a first for the Suntory Mermaid, it’s not the first time that Horie has done this trip. In 1992 he pedaled all the way from Hawaii to Okinawa, made his way across the Pacific in a solar powered boat, and ventured in a catamaran made out of recycled beer barrels.
The propulsion system works by taking the usually-hindering power of waves to propel the boat forward. Two fins set at the front of the boat generate the power by moving up and down as the waves rock the boat. The fins act much like a dolphin’s tail, pushing the boat as the waves move past them. As if that wasn’t enough, the hull of the boat is made out of a super-thin recycled aluminum and solar power will be used for the ship’s interior electronics.