ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)

US research delivers improved tidal turbine blade designs

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), together with its research partners, has developed new marine energy blade designs that use composite materials to reduce costs and increase energy capture by up to 24%.

ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)
ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)
ORPC’s RivGen device operating in Alaska (Courtesy of ORPC)

ORPC worked with the University of New Hampshire to collect data on the hydrofoil (or blade) designs’ performance that could help the water power industry improve reliability of marine energy systems with more advanced blade designs.

The company also developed a new computational data toolset for modeling and simulating foils for crossflow turbines, which are vertical-axis water power turbines with spinning blades oriented perpendicular to the direction of water flow.

The toolset analyzes how turbine blades bend (or deflect) as a result of water currents, which can impact foil performance. This enables turbine designers to select foil materials that provide a desired amount of deflection and achieve a higher level of confidence that the turbine will perform as designed, according to ORPC.   

The University of New Hampshire collected data from a scale model of the hydrofoil to compare with results from the toolset, and the dataset will be available for use by the water power industry, the researchers said.

Additionally, Sandia National Laboratories provided guidance on the selection and installation of fiber optic sensors and supplied devices that transfer data from the rotating turbine to a stationary data acquisition system.  

The research was supported by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), through the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO).

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