Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical/Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Ravindra P. Joshi

Committee Member

Helmut Baumbart

Committee Member

Frederic D. McKenzie

Committee Member

Adrian Gheorghe


A turbine generator is a device that converts mechanical rotation into electrical energy. Unfortunately, the primary driving force that has been used to provide this rotation has, thus far, been fossil fuels. Although fossil fuels have proven to be a reliable resource to continually supply the growing demand for electrical power, they are not without their financial and environmental drawbacks. With the continuously increasing demand for energy, it is hypothesized that the world may, in time, exhaust this precious natural resource and/or inflict permanent environmental damage upon our planet.

However, motions that occur in nature, such as ocean waves, can play a significant role in generating environmentally safe and economically viable energy for human utilization.

As part of research at Old Dominion University, we propose to use a linear electrical generator (which uses a "back-and-forth" motion of a piston rather than a rotational movement) to probe the production of electrical energy simply from ocean waves. This would also be a less complex design compared to that of conventional rotational versions. Quantitative analysis for the voltage and power produced from the linear generator for a given set of ocean-wave characteristics will also be carried out, probed and discussed.

Previous research into this topic has primarily relied upon modeling an ideal buoy (i.e., one that matches the waves' height and motion at each instant in time) responding to the surface ocean waves under the regular wave regime. This work, however, more closely analyzes the physical properties of the buoy and predicts the electrical power generation capabilities from a seabed mounted linear generator Wave Energy Convertor (WEC) tethered to the floating buoy operating under the influence of a non-ideal buoy and the more realistic irregular wave regime. Several buoy sizes will be modeled to exploit the buoys' natural heave frequency in an attempt to create a greater heave response for a given set of sea state conditions. It will be shown that a greater heave response from the buoy generally leads to an increase in the generated power from the linear generator.