Brimes: $400K (and 20 KW) from wave-energy history

Tanks a lot: Brimes Energy engineers put their wave-simulator tank through its paces in Hauppauge.

A Hauppauge energy company riding the waves of a leading-edge clean-gen technology is closer than ever to a critical pilot project in the waters off the Philippines.

But with a signed letter of intent from one of the Southeast Asian island country’s largest utility companies to provide up to $600,000 to the cause, Brimes Energy still needs about $400,000 in working capital to proceed with its ambitious plans.

That’s the breakdown from CEO Ramuel Maramara, a native Filipino who continues to make inroads with the Philippine Energy Regulatory Commission and that corporate partner, which has invoked a confidentiality agreement that prevents Maramara from naming names (though he did tell Innovate LI the company is “one of the biggest” in the nation of 7,000 islands).

“They already have a 3,000-gigawatt capacity,” Maramara said. “And they want to explore ocean-wave energy as another source.”

Enter Brimes Energy, a member of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, and its “artificial jellyfish” wave-energy device, an update of the gyroscopic Salter’s Duck, which is still considered by many in the field to be the best of a poor selection of wave-energy power generators.

The jellyfish, designed to overcome the inherent generation-transmission inefficiencies that have limited the Salter’s Duck, now boasts wave-absorption efficiency of between 40 and 55 percent, “the highest compared to other commercial wave-energy technology,” according to Maramara.

And all systems are go with the corporate partner and the Filipino regulators, the innovator added, noting the ERC has “pre-permitted” Phase 1 of the project – a 20-kilowatt test run that would see jellyfish components prepared on Long Island and assembled in the Philippines.

Ramuel Maramara: Ready to dive in.

The 20 KW would flow into a microgrid supplying electricity to about 1,200 households in a seaside residential community Maramara described as “very poor,” noting many of the homes have no current electricity supply and others have needs as meager as one lightbulb and one electric fan.

To power them up, Brimes Energy will need to match the corporate partner’s financial commitment with about $400,000 in working capital. There’s no specific deadline, according to Maramara, though “we do need to work fast, because [the corporate partner] wants to have something in the water by the end of the year or early next year, so we need to close by April or May.”

“We’re going to be looking to the [Long Island Angel Network] and some New York-based clean-tech venture companies,” Maramara said.

Meanwhile, engineers at Brimes Energy’s Hauppauge laboratory continue to refine and upgrade the wave-energy conversion system, which was finally granted a U.S. patent in July. Their latest innovation: a “shallow-depth version” that contains the same gyroscopic “pod,” Maramara noted, housed in a different body – this designed to sit on the ocean floor at depths of 10 to 30 meters, as opposed to the deep-water version, which floats on the surface and is anchored to a base as far as 60 meters below.

And designers are still pursuing other potential uses for the gyroscopic technology, including the possible desalination of ocean water and even protection against severe coastal erosion (by absorbing wave strength before storm swells reach the shore).

But for the immediate future, Brimes Energy’s eyes are on the bigger prize: Getting that pilot program – the first of four potential phases, each cranking up the wattage – churning off the Philippine coast.

“We got the ball rolling,” Maramara said. “We just need to gain momentum.”

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