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Title: Recovery Act - Refinement of Cross Flow Turbine Airfoils

Ocean Renewable Power Company, LLC (ORPC) is a global leader in hydrokinetic technology and project development. ORPC develops hydrokinetic power systems and eco-conscious projects that harness the power of oceans and rivers to create clean, predictable renewable energy. ORPC’s technology consists of a family of modular hydrokinetic power systems: the TidGen® Power System, for use at shallow to medium-depth tidal sites; the RivGen™ Power System, for use at river and estuary sites; and the OCGen® Power System, presently under development, for use at deep tidal and offshore ocean current sites. These power systems convert kinetic energy in moving water into clean, renewable, grid-compatible electric power. The core technology component for all ORPC power systems is its patented turbine generator unit (TGU). The TGU uses proprietary advanced design cross flow (ADCF) turbines to drive an underwater permanent magnet generator mounted at the TGU’s center. It is a gearless, direct-drive system that has the potential for high reliability, requires no lubricants and releases no toxins that could contaminate the surrounding water. The hydrokinetic industry shows tremendous promise as a means of helping reduce the U.S.’s use of fossil fuels and dependence on foreign oil. To exploit this market opportunity, cross-flow hydrokinetic devicesmore » need to advance beyond the pre-commercial state and more systematic data about the structure and function of cross-flow hydrokinetic devices is required. This DOE STTR project, “Recovery Act - Refinement of Cross Flow Turbine Airfoils,” refined the cross-flow turbine design process to improve efficiency and performance and developed turbine manufacturing processes appropriate for volume production. The project proposed (1) to overcome the lack of data by extensively studying the properties of cross flow turbines, a particularly competitive design approach for extracting hydrokinetic energy and (2) to help ORPC mature its pre-commercial hydrokinetic technology into a commercially viable product over a three-year period by means of a design-for-manufacture process to be applied to the turbines which would result in a detail turbine design suitable for volume manufacture. In Phase I of the Project, ORPC systematically investigated performance of cross flow turbines by varying design parameters including solidity, foil profile, number of foils and foil toe angle using scale models of ORPC’s turbine design in a tow tank at the University of Maine (UMaine). Data collected provided information on interactions between design variables and helped ORPC improve turbine efficiency from 21% to greater than 35%. Analytical models were developed to better understand the physical phenomena at play in cross-flow turbines. In Phase II of the Project, ORPC expanded on data collected in Phase I to continue improving turbine efficiency, with a goal to optimally approach the Betz limit of 59.3%. Further tow tank testing and development of the analytical models and techniques was completed at UMaine and led to a deeper understanding of the flow phenomena involved. In addition, ORPC evaluated various designs, materials and manufacturing methods for full-scale turbine foils, and identified those most conducive to volume manufacture. Selected components of the turbine were structurally tested in a laboratory environment at UMaine. Performance and structural testing of the full scale turbine design was conducted as part of the field testing. The work funded by this project enabled the development of design tools for the rapid and efficient development of high performance cross-flow hydrokinetic turbine foils. The analytical tools are accurate and properly capture the underlying physical flow phenomena present in hydrokinetic cross-flow turbines. The ability to efficiently examine the design space provides substantial economic benefit to ORPC in that it allows for rapid design iteration at a low computational cost. The design-for-manufacture work enabled the delivery of a turbine design suitable for manufacture in intermediate to large quantity, lowering the unit cost of turbines and the levelized cost of electricity from ORPC hydrokinetic turbine. ORPC fielded the turbine design in a full scale application – the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project which began operation off the coast of Eastport, Maine in September 2012. This is the first commercial, grid-connected tidal energy project in North America and the only ocean energy project not involving a dam which delivers power to a utility grid anywhere in the Americas. ORPC received a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pilot project license to install and operate this project in February 2012. Construction of the TidGen® Power System began in March 2012, and the system was grid-connected on September 13, 2012. A 20-year commercial power purchase agreement to sell the power generated by the project was completed with Bangor Hydro Electric Company and is the first and only power purchase agreement for tidal energy. This is the first project in the U.S. to receive Renewable Energy Certificates for tidal energy production. The STTR project is a benefit to the public through its creation of jobs. ORPC’s recent deployment of the TidGen™ Power System is part of their larger project, the Maine Tidal Energy Project. According to ORPC’s report to the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the 20-year power purchase agreement, the Maine Tidal Energy Project will create and/or retain at least 80 direct full-time equivalent jobs in Maine during the development, construction and installation phase (2011 through 2016). In addition, the Maine Tidal Energy Project will create and/or retain at least 12 direct full-time equivalent jobs in Maine during the operating and maintenance phase (2016 through 2020). The STTR project has facilitated new and expanded services in manufacturing, fabrication and assembly, including major business growth for the composite technologies sector; creation of deepwater deployment, maintenance and retrieval services; and the expansion and formation of technical support services such as site assessment and design services, geotechnical services, underwater transmission services, and environmental monitoring services. The Maine Tidal Energy Project’s impact on workforce will enable other ocean energy projects – be they offshore wind, wave or additional tidal opportunities – to succeed in Maine. ORPC received a 2013 Tibbetts Award by the U.S. Small Business Administration.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Technical Report
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Ocean Renewable Power Company
Sponsoring Org:
Contributing Orgs:
University of Maine
Country of Publication:
United States
16 TIDAL AND WAVE POWER Cross Flow Turbine Airfoils