Marine Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy:
Increasing Velocity for Underwater Power Extraction in the Hydraulic Flume
Students: Michael Volpe '11 and Stephen McMillin '12
Goals and Methods: The hydraulic flume facility is hosting a project funded by Sandia National Laboratories through a Department of Energy research grant to develop tools and methods to measure and predict the Environmental Impact of Advanced Water Power Technologies in both inland waterways and coastal environments. This project is a part of a larger research consortium where the hydraulic flume has been chosen as an experimental facility to aid in the development of these technologies by providing small-scale testing in a controlled laboratory environment. Specifically, the flume is being used to test the environmental impact on the local sediment transport of an underwater turbine as it converts hydrokinetic energy to power. Using the Sontek Acoustic Doppler Velocimetry system, values for water velocity are measured and collected for processing. After the work done in the summer of 2009, the model turbine was not able to rotate high enough to be able to measure torque and power, so the goal of the work accomplished this past summer was to design and assemble a nozzle configuration for the hydraulic flume (with the assistance of the Project Development Lab). Due to the decrease in cross-sectional area of the flume by the nozzle, the velocity of the water has doubled and therefore the rotations of the turbine have doubled. With this increase in speed the model turbines can be loaded for accurate power measurements, and its associated sediment transport studies. Currently, a more permanent nozzle configuration that fits with the existing facility is being designed and installed for further testing.