History and Future of Ocean Energy (2016-2017)

The ocean represents a highly interconnected and more difficult environment to manage than most terrestrial systems. The surge in ocean renewable energy technologies and newfound hydrocarbon reserves make this issue an emerging one that also has a significant history.

This Bass Connections project team explored ocean common-pool resource control, engineering, technology, regulation, corporate policies and environmental stewardship. Team members assessed the consequences of human decisions on deep-sea mining, traditional oil and gas development, renewable energy sources, new technologies and governance of “high-seas” ocean energy resources.

While offshore wind energy is growing at the state level, state policymakers lack sufficient information to pursue implementation within a shorter timeframe. There are noted barriers (including costs, stakeholder interests and permits) that will arise in this process and need to be addressed. The team produced a report containing findings from its research into best practices for developing offshore wind energy that any state policymaker can use to pursue an offshore wind farm while avoiding common barriers.

Ocean waves represent an enormous source of energy that is available to power technologies such as tracking the migratory patterns of endangered marine mammals, powering remote buoys for environmental ocean monitoring and creating a network of wireless, battery-free ocean sensors for safety offshore. Team members investigated ocean energy harvesting using nonlinear dynamics to enhance the amount of kinetic energy available to an electrostatic energy converter. In the system, harvested mechanical motion is converted into usable electrical power by means of a novel rotary parallel plate capacitor. The well-known triboelectric effect is used to provide the initial charge on the harvester plates.

Taking the team’s research further, Ashley Blawas, Brandon Dalla Rosa and Sam Kelly received a Bass Connections Follow-on Student Research Award to produce a digital acoustic recording tag that reliably and accurately records and stores data using triboelectric power.


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outputs

Douglas Nowacek, Spatial and Acoustic Ecology of Marine Megafauna (SPAM) ($1,111,778 grant awarded from the University of North Carolina - Wilmington, 2016)

Best Management Practices for Developing Offshore Wind Energy: A Guide for U.S. Policy Makers (Hannah Derrick, Imani Dorsey, Jeannie McKinney, Leah Louis-Prescott, Genevieve Valladao, Nikila Vasudevan, Lori Bennear, Jay Golden)

Best Management Practices for Developing Offshore Wind Energy in the United States (Hannah Derrick, Imani Dorsey, Leah Louis-Prescott, Jeannie McKinney, Genevieve Valladao, Nikila Vasudevan)

Designing an Energy Harvesting Buoy (Ashley Blawas, Kip Coonley, Brandon Dalla Rosa, Kelsey Evezich, Brent Hermiller, Nicholas Naclerio, Dane Sequeira, Trevyn Toone, Justin Wang, Martin Brooke, Brian Mann, Doug Nowacek)


Samuel Pickerill

Megan Nasgovitz

Leah Louis-Prescott

Nikila Vasudevan

Ashley Blawas


Open Tag Project

This Team in the News

Dive Into Duke's Vast Ocean Research

Safer Tagging and Better Data: A Student Effort to Help Scientists Around the World

Duke Seniors Share What Was Most Meaningful about Their Bass Connections Experiences

Duke University Energy Initiative’s Annual Impact Report - FY 2017

Engineering Students Seek a Better Way to Track Endangered Marine Mammals

Energy Student Profile: Leah Louis-Prescott (MEM ’18)

Student Laurels and Honors for 2017

Students Present Their Research and Learn from Each Other at the Bass Connections Showcase

Twelve Students Receive Grants to Take Their Bass Connections Research Further

Dorsey’s Passion off the Pitch

See related teams, Ocean Energy: Products and Pollutants (2017-2018) and History and Future of Ocean Energy (2015-2016).

Team Leaders

  • Lori Bennear, Nicholas School of the Environment-Environmental Sciences and Policy
  • Martin Brooke, Pratt School of Engineering-Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Jay Golden, Nicholas School of the Environment-Earth and Climate Sciences
  • Brian Mann, Pratt School of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
  • Douglas Nowacek, Nicholas School of the Environment-Marine Science and Conservation
  • John Virdin, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

/graduate Team Members

  • Noelle DeStefano, Environment-PHD
  • Dane Sequeira, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-MS, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-PHD
  • Brent Hermiller, Mech Engg/Materials Sci-MS
  • Jeannie McKinney, Masters of Public Policy, International Dev Policy
  • Leah Louis-Prescott, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Brandon Hull, Economics (BS)
  • Nikila Vasudevan, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Genevieve Valladao, Biology (BS), Earth & Ocean Sciences (AB2)
  • Trevyn Toone, Biology (BS)
  • Samuel Pickerill, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • Nicholas Naclerio, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Justin Wang, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Samuel Kelly, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Connor Guest, Mechanical Engineering (BSE)
  • Kelsey Evezich, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Imani Dorsey, Environmental Sci/Policy (AB)
  • Monika Dharia, Civil Engineering (BSE)
  • Hannah Derrick, Environmental Sciences (BS)
  • Brandon Dalla Rosa, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE)
  • Ashley Blawas, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Kip Coonley, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Jonas Monast, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

/zcommunity Team Members

  • John Young, Continental Shelf Associates