Accelerating marine hydrokinetic (MHK) renewable energy development towards commercial viability requires investigating interactions between the engineered environment and its surrounding physical and biological environments. Complex and energetic hydrodynamic and morphodynamic environments desired for such energy conversion installations present difficulties for designing efficient yet robust sustainable devices, while permitting agency uncertainties regarding MHK device environmental interactions result in lengthy and costly processes prior to installing and demonstrating emerging technologies. A research program at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), University of Minnesota, utilized multi-scale physical experiments to study the interactions between axial-flow hydrokinetic turbines, turbulent open channel flow, sediment transport, turbulent turbine wakes, and complex hydro-morphodynamic processes in channels. Model axial-flow current-driven three-bladed turbines (rotor diameters, dT = 0.15m and 0.5m) were installed in open channel flumes with both erodible and non-erodible substrates. Device-induced local scour was monitored over several hydraulic conditions and material sizes. Synchronous velocity, bed elevation and turbine performance measurements provide an indication into the effect channel topography has on device performance. Complimentary experiments were performed in a realistic meandering outdoor research channel with active sediment transport to investigate device interactions with bedform migration and secondary turbulent flow patterns in asymmetric channel environments. The suite of experiments undertaken during this research program at SAFL in multiple channels with stationary and mobile substrates under a variety of turbine configurations provides an in-depth investigation into how axial-flow hydrokinetic devices respond to turbulent channel flow and topographic complexity, and how they impact local and far-field sediment transport characteristics. Results provide the foundation for investigating advanced turbine control strategies for optimal power production in non-stationary environments, while also providing a robust data-set for computational model validation for further investigating the interactions between energy conversion devices and the physical environment.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Civil Engineering. Advisors: Michele Guala, Fotis Sotiropoulos. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 203 pages.
Interactions Between Channel Topography and Hydrokinetic Turbines: Sediment Transport, Turbine Performance, and Wake Characteristics.
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