Advantages of Atmocean Wave Energy Technology

Advantages of Atmocean Wave Energy Technology

We believe Atmocean to have numerous advantages within the wave energy sector. Like a blade of grass in the wind, Atmocean’s wave energy array has been designed to move within a very complex and punishing ocean environment. Unlike most current technologies, our array, instead of being directly connected to the seafloor, is instead anchored at opposite ends. This reduces our impact and footprint on the seafloor, keeps costs down which allows Atmocean to remain competitive with conventional fuels, and makes operations and maintenance far easier.

Additionally, due to our modular approach, our system can be shipped in standard shipping containers. This allowing for production at an industrial scale, reducing on site operations and gains Atmocean the economy of scale. Furthermore, this allows for a quick roll-out of our system. Imagine in the wake of a natural disaster, being able to show up to a devastated coastal community with 6 shipping containers and be able to produce power and/or fresh water daily, within just a few short days of arriving!

These are just some of our advantages within the wave energy sector. However, members of the entire wave energy industry maintain overall advantages to conventional fuel sources. In our previous effort to crowd fund Atmocean wave energy for the deployment of our Peruvian pilot demonstration system, we wanted to make some short videos for the public audience in which we highlighted advantages of our technology in a fun and simple manner. Below, you will find 9 short clips, each discussing an advantage of Atmocean’s wave energy technology as short thought-provoking ideas. Enjoy!

There is an estimated potential of 3.7 terawatts of global wave energy, almost double that of current world electrical consumption. With Atmocean’s technology, we have the potential to tap into this resource and unlock this clean renewable energy source, allowing us to divest from current fossil fuels we heavily rely on.

At 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, Atmocean is competitive in price to all current energy sources, no subsidies needed, period!

With our global challenges extending beyond clean energy production, why stop there when we can also filter the ocean of plastic. Since our technology operates by using waves to pump seawater to shore, where it goes through a simple Pelton water wheel to generate electricity, we additionally have the opportunity to filter the seawater as it goes back to sea of micro plastics. This is a new concept, secondary to power generation and desalination, but we are excited by the prospect of returning the resource cleaner than when we found it. Did you happen to catch the newspaper he was reading?

With roughly 60% of the world population living within 100 miles of a coastline, wave energy benefits from a local demand for power generation. As Atmocean operates at a minimum wave height of 1 meter, it allows for deployment in most coastal communities throughout the world.

With simplicity in design, using readily accessible materials, our system can be manufactured locally, globally!

With Atmocean’s 1st array, not only do we start to generate clean energy, we stand to revolutionize the world energy market by launching a new energy source!

Although tidal energy makes progress, there is yet to be a successful wave energy project realized throughout the world (Sept. 2014)! Carnegie has since come online Feb. 17th, 2015. Atmocean is set to join with our pilot demonstration system in 2015.

Atmocean’s 1st fully functional Peruvian system will act two-fold by generating clean energy, while also competing directly with fossil fuels sourced from the Peruvian Amazon basin.

Since 2005, we’ve conducted 59 days of ocean testing in Texas, Bermuda, Hawaii, California, and Oregon; three years of analysis by Sandia National Laboratories; six days of wave tank testing at Plymouth University (UK) state-of-the-art wave tank; all of which has allowed us to develop the technology and generate the blue prints ready to go into production. With the models, pilot studies, and tests done, all that is left is manufacturing of the array and deployment

In the news

The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaperThe New Mexican and the Journal of Albuquerque both published articles (Aug. Sept. 2014) regarding our technology, initial funding we’ve received, and the progress made towards implementing our 1st array in the spring of 2015.


whole foods logoWhole Foods sponsored a series called Thrive in 2012 and 2013 in which they covered revolutionary thinkers with the potential to change the world as we know it. Atmocean was featured in episode 6 during our developing phase and we’re excited to share it with you here.


Cop15 logoIn 2009, Atmocean attended the Copenhagen climate exchange that took place the week prior to the Cop 15 climate conference. At that time, our technology was designed to sequester carbon. By using waves to pump nutrient rich cold water from deeper waters to the surface, phytoplankton growth could be promoted. As phytoplankton grow and die, they sink taking carbon to the seafloor, in essence sequestering carbon. However, due to the failure of a carbon trading scheme, financing of the 1st generation technology remains difficult.


IOI logoThe International Ocean Institute did a story in 2008 discussing how Atmocean’s initial ocean pumps could act as two fold, to help reduce hurricane strength while also sequestering carbon.




BBC logoThe BBC wrote an article on Atmocean’s sequestration technology in 2007 when the design was first in development.


Where we came from

Where we came from

Early Beginnings:

atmocean_pipesWe’ve come a long way since the company was incorporated by Phil Kithil in 2006. Initially, the idea was to use pumps that would take advantage of wave action and bring colder deep water towards the surface in an attempt to reduce  the temperature of warm surface waters with the ultimate goal of reducing the strength of hurricanes, as described in this U-Tube video “Reducing hurricane intensity using arrays of Atmocean Inc.’s wave-driven upwelling pumps”. Although pilots proved successful, finding investors proved difficult. A measured side effect to these pilot pumps was bringing nutrient rich water to the nutrient poor surface. The system was redesigned as an up-welling system to bring nutrient rich water up into the photosynthetic zone, thereby promoting algae growth and carbon sequestration. Although the pumps once again proved to work and function as designed and described in this U-Tube Video “CO2 Ocean Recycling Using Wave-Driven Ocean Pumps”, it has been difficult to market a product that provides benefits on a global scale with less localized monetary returns in wake of the failed 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference and inability of countries to realize a carbon trading program.

Waves into electricity:

Single pump on fork liftRealizing that countries, businesses, and people need to see tangible economic results under current circumstances, Atmocean has since redesigned the ocean pumps to convert wave action into electricity and or fresh water, covered in “Episode 6″ of the mini series 9.3 sponsored by Whole Foods. In addition, the pumps still provide residual artificial up-welling as an additional ecological benefit to the areas they are deployed in. Benefits of this technology revolve around this invention’s simplicity in design and function. The product is therefore limited to fail and since the system acts on waves and sea water to create energy, there is no risk towards the environment that is often present regarding other sources of energy extraction such as oil, nuclear, and natural gas.

Our common future:

Single pump on water vith VSAThe truth is, we need solutions as a global community that take into account our current global energy needs and circumstances, while not putting our environment at risk. New energy sources will diversify our investment while promoting the local ecology in which they operate. We believe one of the answers to this difficult question is found here with Atmocean. In addition to solar and wind, Atmocean works to bring the globe a third form of renewable energy. With 70% of the world covered by water, Atmocean’s application of wave energy can be applied around the world, helping to solve one of our many challenges we face today.

1st demonstration system set to deploy spring 2015

1st demonstration system set to deploy spring 2015

We are currently working towards our 1st demonstration system deployment off the coast of Peru, set to occur in the spring of 2015. While this demonstration system will consist of a string of 5 buoys, a complete array of 15 pumps will power roughly 200 homes, additionally replacing energy previously sourced from coal. Our demonstration system will provide proof of concept for a fully functional system deployment in December of 2015, opening the doors for larger system implementation across the globe in ’16 and ’17. For this initial demonstration, we are sourcing parts from Albuquerque, NM as well as Lima, Peru.

But why Peru as a pilot array location?

Peru site location

Peru site location

  • Peru is an ideal location for this first Atmocean project due to the steady waves which originate in the Antarctic and are carried towards Peru’s coast. With less seasonal variability, efficiency is higher and costs are lower.
  • Peru utilities under Peruvian law, purchase 100% of new sources of renewable electricity.
  • By delivering pressurized seawater onshore to generate electricity, we’re also organizing to supply a local desalination plant and ice-making facility to this very arid region.
  • The business climate in Peru is excellent, with its economy maintaining robust growth at 5% per year with low inflation, accelerating its need for new sources of energy. While it has gas reserves in the Amazon, these raise environmental concerns as well as cultural impacts on the indigenous people. Our ability to offset their natural gas, oil demands, and coal imports, acts twofold in our efforts to bring about a new source of clean energy.
Wave energy target market

Wave energy target market

Why Atmocean compared to other wave energy providers?

  • As our system does not generate electricity at sea, but works by pumping seawater to shore, we’re able to separate mechanical production at sea from electrical production on land. This leads to reduced capital investment necessary to make our system work.
  • As our system is modular and fits into standard shipping containers, it can be mass-produced and rolled out over a short period of time, generating economy of scale.
  • By mooring our whole system vs. attaching each pump to the seafloor, Atmocean has a minimal impact on the benthic environment.
  • Requiring less complicated and costly operations and maintenance, which is often associated with sub sea divers, annual costs are further reduced.

Why now?

  • Atmocean began business in 2006 and has to date conducted 14 sea trials, been awarded seven grants from Sandia National Laboratories, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, and UK’s Technology Strategy Board. Additionally, Atmocean has performed six trials at the wave tank testing facility located at the University of Plymouth (UK). This R&D has allowed us to run the simulations, deploy the pilot buoy tests, and generate the models to get us through the prototype stage. This has brought us to the point where this project is ready for a system deployment based off of our proven technology.

    Pilot pump deployment off the coast of Oregon (2013)

    Pilot pump deployment off the coast of Oregon (2013)

Our technology and how it works

Our technology and how it works

A fully functional array consists of 15 pumps covering an area of 180m x 270m

A fully functional array consists of 15 pumps covering an area of 180m x 270m

As waves pass under the array (as seen here to the right), the buoys rise. A series of free-floating platforms called Variable Sea Anchors or “VSAs” are connected by steel cables beneath the pump and provide drag to the rising buoys. The pumps located between the VSAs and buoys consist of a rod and piston, and are designed to take advantage of the resulting tension to pull in sea water and pump it towards shore. The entire array acts in series with five pumps along three separate strings to increase the volume and pressure of water being delivered on shore. All three strings manifold into a 22cm pipe that delivers the pressurized seawater onshore, where the seawater is run through a simple Pelton water wheel to generate clean, renewable electricity! Conversely, the pressurized seawater can also be diverted towards a reverse osmosis system to desalinate seawater into potable drinking water. This overall technology can be observed in the following animation.

The projected output per array is based on computational fluid dynamics modeling conducted for us by Sandia National Laboratories. The onshore flow produced by an array of 15 pumps located 1.8km from shore, acting in seas with 1.8m waves with 8 second intervals, is estimated to generate 125 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Given the operating pressure of 180 psi, and taking into account all the known efficiency factors, this translates to a rated output of 500 kW, producing about 2 million kWh per year. As with any renewable energy, we are not constrained by how fast we can dig and burn coal, but the motion of the oceans. The above calculations are annual averages for coastal Peruvian waters. Our system requires a minimum of 1m wave height to operate and will operate at a maximum of 3m wave height. Buoys will submerge in waves greater than 3m, acting as a self-protection mechanism while still using the maximum pump stroke of 3m.

Overview of our pump design engineered through multiple versions.

Atmocean Wave Energy (“AWE”) acts to generate clean, renewable ocean energy, leading to the reduction of dependence on fossil fuels while benefiting the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. It is an ideal export product, able to be shipped in standard shipping containers or manufactured locally, generating thousands of new jobs in the countries we enter. AWE is additionally very low-cost and in most countries, economic at the prevailing wholesale price per kWh of electricity, without need for energy subsidies. The technology has been tested in over 14 ocean trials and is ready to be commercially deployed upon receipt of funding.

Our Team

philPhilip Kithil, CEO. Mr. Kithil is inventor of the wave-energy system and is founder, Chairman & CEO of Atmocean, Inc., formed to commercialize the invention. Kithil has his B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College, VT (1965), and M.S.B.A. in Economics from University of Denver (1971). He has successfully founded six startups since 1972, in apparel manufacturing & retailing, economic consulting, advertising, association management & public relations, automotive safety, and now renewable marine energy. In the automotive safety technology business which he founded, Kithil was inventor on thirteen issued U.S. and international patents. Between founding the company in 1994 and 2003, he successfully licensed ASCI’s intellectual property to six automotive tier one suppliers, then in 2004 sold the patent portfolio to Methode Electronics, Inc.

phil fullamPhilip Fullam, Chief Consulting Engineer. Mr. Fullam is currently employed as Chief Engineer for Reytek, Inc., a strategic partner of Atmocean based in Albuquerque. Reytek is a design-engineering-fabrication business specializing in sheet metal and stainless steel products, and electromechanical manufacturing equipment.Mr. Fullam obtained his engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, then held various engineering positions at Yellowsprings Instrument Company, and Los Alamos Diagnostics, before founding his consulting company New Venture Engineering, Inc. in 1988. In this activity, he gained extensive experience in materials engineering, manufacturing process engineering, CAD/CAM, as well as business development. In 1994 Fullam began consulting for Kithil/ASCI and he was instrumental in the product development and testing which ultimately led to successful licensing and sale of the ASCI patent portfolio. Mr. Fullam has participated in ocean testing of the Atmocean wave-energy system; conducted tank testing of 1/20th scale models; performed computional fluid dynamics modeling to ascertain probable output of an array; and produced production CAD drawings.

chrisChristopher White, Project manager. Mr. White holds a BS from the University of British Columbia and a MSc from the University of Amsterdam in Oceanography and Limnology. While working on various research topics ranging from coral reef ecology to feed within aquaculture, he maintains a emergency medical technician intermediate license as well as a PADI dive master accreditation. Mr. White began with Atmocean in 2009, when he represented the company at the Copenhagen Climate exchange. He has additionally represented Atmocean to various interested parties throughout the Caribbean and South America. Given his previous time living and working in Peru conducting ecological surveys along the coast and knowledge of the Spanish language, he plays a valuable role as acting manager for our initial Peruvian pilot array.

The potential of wave energy

The potential of wave energy

Water covers 71% of our world and holds a vast potential for clean renewable energy production. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers estimated in a 2010 report of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering, that there is an estimated potential of 3.7 terawatts of wave energy, almost double that of current world electrical consumption.

Waves are created by winds blowing across the oceans. Waves are distinct from daily tidal surges created by the gravitational effects of the moon as the earth spins on its axis. Compared to wind and sun, waves are more consistent and predictable and as water is roughly 1000 times more dense than air, it makes potential transmission into renewable energy very efficient. With roughly 60% of the world population living within 50 miles of a coastline, wave power can be locally delivered, reducing energy loss to transmission across long distances. Additionally, as power demands increase during colder winter months, wave energy generation mirrors that demand with increased wave activity. Furthermore, as coastal communities move to install ever-increasing number of desalination plants to increase access to fresh water, wave energy holds the potential to fuel the process of desalination, an energy intensive process in itself.

Numerous projects are working towards ways to tap into this pool of energy with mix results. Yet the world still waits for a dependable technology that can safely and cost effectively transform waves into electricity. We believe that answer can be found here, with Atmocean.