Alumni Spotlight: Marcus Lehmann

April 9, 2019

Marcus Lehmann

Current position: Co-founder & CEO, CalWave Power Technologies Inc.

Cal Affiliation: Visiting Research Student, Mechanical Engineering (2012-2016)

During his time as a Visiting Scholar at the Theoretical & Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Marcus was inspired by the “Wave Carpet”, developed by Reza Alam, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, who, in previous research, had identified that energy could be extracted from muddy seabeds. Marcus made it his mission to take the Wave Carpet technology out of the test tank and into the open ocean.

Over one holiday break, Marcus and some fellow researchers built an impromptu Wave Carpet prototype out of scrap materials, including bike tires, a pump, and pingpong balls.

Within the last 6 months of his time at Cal, Marcus completed his doctorate, graduated CalWave from Berkeley Lab’s inaugural Cyclotron Road incubation platform, and received $500,000 from the DOE’s Wave Energy Prize to continue his team’s research. Since then, Marcus’ startup and the the Wave Carpet have been featured in National Geographic, Fast Company, Bloomberg, Forbes, and the Economist – and in 2017, the team was awarded for a multi-million demonstration contract by the US DOE.

So how does the Wave Carpet work? Marcus explains that the Wave Carpet sits atop a series of double-acting piston pumps. When the waves run over the carpet, the carpet adopts the wave motion, which in turn runs the pumps. They generate hydraulic pressure that gets sent into a discharge pipe, which brings the pressure onshore to convert it into electricity.

Marcus’ most cherished BERC memory was the 2013 Innovation Expo, where his team’s poster won first prize: “the award was the very first funding we've ever received for our ocean energy technology and the initial encouraging spark to continue to work on it!”

A member of BERC since 2013, Marcus believed then, and continues to believe today that the BERC network connects unique, highly motivated, and qualified individuals around a shared passion for the renewable energy sector.