Rationally designed sea snake structure based triboelectric nanogenerators for effectively and efficiently harvesting ocean wave energy with minimized water screening effect

Steven L. Zhang, Minyi Xu, Chunli Zhang, Yi-Cheng Wang, Haiyang Zou, Xu He, Zhengjun Wang, Zhong Lin Wang; Nano Energy, Volume 48, Pages 421-429, ISSN 2211-2855.


Ocean waves are one of the most power dense energy sources in the environment. Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) have been demonstrated to effectively harvest mechanical energy carried by low frequency, random/irregular actuation, such as from ocean waves. In this work, a novel design of triboelectric nanogenerator based on the Pelamis snake energy harvester is presented. The sea snake based TENG, with its lightweight structure, was able to harvest energy effectively at low amplitude ocean wave by utilizing charged polytetrafluroethylene balls that would roll due to the wave's curvature. With the integration of springs to connect different segments, the segments are able to bend easily, allowing the enclosed balls to move faster, producing higher output power. The design of an air gap structure allows each segments of the sea snake based TENG to minimize electrostatic induction from ions in sea water, and solve the effect of dielectric shielding from the water on the device performance, as the water, if it is close to the TENG's electrodes, has a detrimental effect causing an increase of the TENG's internal capacitance, which would result in a low voltage with the same amount of charge being transformed. Thus, this illustrates the importance of the air gap structure to minimize low voltage due to high internal capacitance. This further shows the sea snake based triboelectric nanogenerator could be used in actual ocean conditions, such as in high salinity water environment. The added tampered spring to replace the air gap was able to allow the balls on the TENG to move more quickly, as it increased the rotational angle, and the TENG has a maximum power density of 3 W/m3 under actuation. Due to the minimization of dielectric shielding of device performance, the sea snake TENG exhibits a high voltage in simulated water wave conditions.