Second Place - High School

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 13: Climate Action

2018 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: Woodbridge High School
Location: Irvine, CA, United States
Coach: Laura Mattair
Team members: Chiwon Oh, Junsang Yun

Video Pitch

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Innovation Details

The Piezoelectric Kelp Forest is an improved method of harnessing wave energy. It is an array of multiple, strategically placed synthetic kelp that translates the bending movement of the kelp blades into electrical charge. Unlike conventional forms of wave energy, this does not require certain levels of wave strengths, and can be applied anywhere. Due to its kelp forest-like structure, the design poses no environmental threat, while providing a potential habitat for marine life. Because the Piezoelectric Kelp Forest is completely submerged underwater, it does not require allocation of land and does not interfere with private and commercial vessels.

Major forms of energy today come from nonrenewable sources that produce massive amounts of greenhouse gases, which is detrimental to the environment. Different types of renewable energy sources that emit minimal amounts of GHGs have been explored to tackle the current energy crisis. However, there are limitations facing renewable resources, including noise pollution, insufficient land, and potential harm to the environment. Seeing the untapped potential of the ocean as an energy source, the team wondered, how can we improve current wave energy harnessing methods while tackling some of the limitations of renewable energy methods today?

A scuba diving session near the California Kelp Forests piqued our interest in the structure of kelp, including its countless number of constantly moving blades. The team studied how the development of blades affects the drag between the blade and water. By redesigning the blades, the team maximized their movement to enhance the production of electrical charges. Furthermore, after examining how schools of fish move to conserve internal energy by using flow patterns of adjacent fish, the team strategized an array to place the redesigned kelps to expose their blades to multidirectional flow patterns in the water, increasing the frequency of bending moment.