Illustration (Courtesy of TEAMER Program)

US research program funds ten marine energy projects

The U.S. Testing Expertise and Access to Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program has approved funding totaling nearly $1.3 million for ten projects under its eleventh Request for Technical Support (RFTS).

Illustration (Courtesy of TEAMER Program)

According to TEAMER, these projects, designated as Technical Support Recipients (TSRs), will have support for testing expertise and access to numerical modeling, laboratory or bench testing, tank/flume testing, and expertise within the expanding TEAMER Facility Network.

Selected applicants, in collaboration with their respective supporting facilities, are required to submit their complete Test Plans. This step is essential before they can begin utilizing the provided financial assistance. 

The developers and projects selected under TEAMER’s eleventh RFTS include Dehlsen Associates CFD Modeling of Full-scale Centipod WEC, with Sandia National Laboratories as the supporting facility; Verdant Power – Current Energy Converter Blade Testing – Static Test of an Epoxy Blade to Failure, with National Renewable Energy Laboratory as the supporting facility; University of Hawai’i at Mānoa – Experimental Study of a Dual-Function Slotted Barrier Integrated With Oscillating Water Column for Wave Energy Extraction and Shore Protection; with Oregon State University Wave Research Laboratory as the supporting facility; Carnegie Clean Energy – Extreme Wave Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling with 1-Way Fluid Structure Interaction for a Wave Energy Converter, with National Renewable Energy Laboratory as the supporting facility; and SRI International – Hydrodynamic Modelling for Tidal Energy Kites, National Renewable Energy Laboratory as the supporting facility. 

The remaining developers and projects successful in this round are Columbia Power Technologies – Investigation of Alternate Material Design Methods for Wave Power System (WPS) Ballast and Hull Systems, Cardinal Engineering as the supporting facility; Future Island Impact – Long Island Sound Resource Assessment, Integral Consulting as the supporting facility; Wavewatts  – Preliminary Performance Analysis for the Wavewatts Wave Energy Converter, WEC-Sim Facility as the supporting facility; Lancaster University – TALOS Wave Energy Converter Optimization, WEC-Sim Facility as the supporting facility; and AOE Accumulated Ocean Energy – Tank Testing of AOE Accumulated Ocean Energy Wave Energy Converter, with the Oregon State University Wave Research Laboratory as the supporting facility.

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The TEAMER program, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, aims to enhance marine renewable energy development. 

This initiative focuses on overcoming key technological challenges, expanding knowledge, spurring innovation, and aiding in commercialization by leveraging the country’s facilities and expertise.

TEAMER’s 12th RFTS is open for applications until March 1.

The projects

Dehlsens’s Centipod Wave Energy Converter (WEC) is a two-part point absorber that generates power from the relative motion of the two main moving parts. The concept behind the device can be described as a surface buoy connected to a positively buoyant backbone, which is anchored to the seabed with mooring lines. The surface buoy is excited by incoming waves creating relative motion between the buoy and the backbone. This piston motion drives a power take off system which converts the kinetic energy to electrical energy. By modeling the behavior of the device at full scale and under expected oceanic conditions, Dehlsen expects to gain a better understanding of the expected structural loads and operational performance of the Centipod device.

Verdant Power, in conjunction with NREL, will conduct a controlled static test to failure of the Verdant Power Gen5d epoxy turbine blade design that performed successfully at RITE. Results will validate model predictions for extreme loads and confirm the design and manufacturing of these blades include a sufficient safety factor to ensure a 20-year lifetime. Lessons learned are expected to enable cost reductions in the design and manufacturing by avoiding the over-design of future turbine blades while further validating the FAST model as an important tool for the design of current energy converters.

University of Hawai’i at Mānoa has proposed developing a dual functional fixed oscillating water column (OWC) ocean wave energy converter to function as a breakwater and a power plant for nearby onshore facilities. The assistance request is to test a large-scale model in OSU Hinsdale wave flume and compare the results to small scale model from UH Manoa’s wave flume, subject the model to irregular wave test conditions, analyze the turbine performance, wave loading on the structure, and near bed velocity profile.

Carnegie Clean Energy secured funding concerning computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to predict the motions and loads of a WEC. Under extreme conditions, the wave kinematics and the excitation loads on an absorber deviate from potential flow predictions. In these conditions, Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models can accurately predict motions and loads for a WEC. A unique CFD approach is used to validate the model predicting WEC hydrodynamics in specified extreme wave events identified from an experimental campaign. This method can be applied to any specified wave. A one-way fluid-structure interaction (FSI) analysis is performed to determine possible critical ultimate stress concentrations.

SRI will be developing new models for understanding the behavior of kites as they travel through water columns, including piercing the surface. Tidal energy kites are a unique type of turbine that extracts power from tidal currents by ‘flying’ a kite underwater. These kites can benefit from operating near or through the surface. Such benefits include enhanced safety, ease of operation with local resources, and ease of adjusting the kite motion and location for a given site or seasonally to maximize tidal energy. These models will be important to develop control systems and design features that help maintain stability and performance. 

Columbia Power Technologies’ investigation will pursue two areas of cost reduction in wave power system (WPS) ballast and hull systems, using C-Power’s StingRAY as a case study. The first area of study will be the cost savings of replacing a steel ballast tank with a stiffened concrete tank. The second area of study will be the weight and cost savings of methods for the design of complex joints where major components of composite and metallic construction intersect. The expected outcome is an understanding of the strength, stability, and cost of these hybrid material design concepts, and their suitability for inclusion in WPS’ designs. The overall suitability of design techniques will be assessed through the impact on mass, power-to-weight ratio, and capital and operational costs.

Future Island Impact’s (FII) mission is to deploy operational tidal turbines in Long Island Sound (LIS) to help Connecticut meet decarbonization and coastal resilience goals and future energy needs. FII requested the funds to complete a desktop study of LIS as a key component to understanding its tidal energy capacity, and physical and environmental constraints. This study will run parallel with research into Connecticut policy, stakeholder engagement, and market assessments. Not just a resource characterization, the study will designate test sites and enable further study of potential devices and power conversion performance. 

Wavewatts aims to calculate the anticipated annual mechanical energy harvest and determine the general design parameters that optimize the energy harvest of the two body Wavewatts WEC. The Wavewatts concept is said to be able to consistently deliver critical dispatchable renewable energy by directly converting large and slow-moving forces of wave energy into compressed air. The stored energy in compressed air has many potential applications, such as in aquaculture, desalination, and dispatchable utility-scale power. This investigation looks to confirm the anticipated performance and dynamics of the WAC.

Lancaster University’s research proposal requests technical support to significantly enhance the TALOS WEC efficiency, leveraging the integration of advanced numerical methods and optimization techniques. By utilizing SciPy optimize alongside existing WEC modeling tools (including Capytaine and WEC-Sim), the University’s goal is to refine the TALOS system’s design, mass distribution, and power take-off (PTO) dynamics to maximize energy capture from ocean waves. The initiative aims to provide a novel, effective, clean energy source. The collaborative effort aims to partner American expertise with an international program, utilizing the unique TALOS multi-axis WEC design to contribute meaningful advancements in renewable energy technology.

AOE Accumulated Ocean Energy will test the effectiveness of its WEC design through a two-fold approach to advance the development of marine energy solutions.  AOE’s point absorber style wave energy converter will be emulated using Oregon State University’s LUPA WEC data acquisition buoy at OH Hinsdale Wave Lav and compared with a 1/10 scale numerical model device. The tank testing programs will precede a separate program conducting open ocean testing at PacWave. The LUPA PTO emulator model will be modified to emulate pressure, rather than direct drive loads as currently operated. Testing will be conducted in the Large Wave Flume facilities. The LUPA device will be modified by AOE to physically represent the AOE WEC separately from this submission.

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