Image of waves on beach
Image of measured bed elevation change
Measured bed elevation change on the leeside of a pile breakwater model after running multiple solitary waves in a wave flume. Scour at the breakwater caused by jet flow through the gaps between piles can be observed.

Rising sea level puts beaches and coastal infrastructure at risk. Ocean and coastal engineers traditionally protect coastlines and harbors by building breakwaters that redirect and/or dissipate wave energy. However, this represents a significant loss of energy – energy that might be put to other use! In fact, wave energy conversion (WEC) devices are specifically designed to harness wave energy. Is it possible to design a WEC that is also a breakwater? Can we harness wave energy while protecting our coasts/harbors at the same time?

This is the aim of a new project funded by the National Research Foundation: Controlling Cross-shore Sediment Transport by Integrating Pile Breakwaters with Wave Energy Converters for Sustainable Coastal Management. The long-term goal of this research is to promote the concept of coastal management with sustainable technologies. Relying on recent development in two-phase flow simulations, this research will improve understanding of hydrodynamic and sediment processes in the vicinity of bottom-sitting coastal structures of complex geometry. It will enable better prediction of shoreline evolution protected by an Oscillating-Water-Column (OWC)-pile breakwater.

This three-year project is led by ORE Associate Professor Zhenhua Huang.

Prof. Huang awarded NSF grant to improve sustainable coastal management
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