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Title: Laboratory Experiments on the Effects of Blade Strike from Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies on Larval and Juvenile Freshwater Fishes

Abstract

There is considerable interest in the development of marine and hydrokinetic energy projects in rivers, estuaries, and coastal ocean waters of the United States. Hydrokinetic (HK) technologies convert the energy of moving water in river or tidal currents into electricity, without the impacts of dams and impoundments associated with conventional hydropower or the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) maintains a database that displays the geographical distribution of proposed HK projects in inland and tidal waters (FERC 2012). As of March 2012, 77 preliminary permits had been issued to private developers to study HK projects in inland waters, the development of which would total over 8,000 MW. Most of these projects are proposed for the lower Mississippi River. In addition, the issuance of another 27 preliminary permits for HK projects in inland waters, and 3 preliminary permits for HK tidal projects (totaling over 3,100 MW) were under consideration by FERC. Although numerous HK designs are under development (see DOE 2009 for a description of the technologies and their potential environmental effects), the most commonly proposed current-based projects entail arrays of rotating devices, much like submerged wind turbines, that are positioned in the high-velocity (highmore » energy) river channels. The many diverse HK designs imply a diversity of environmental impacts, but a potential impact common to most is the risk for blade strike to aquatic organisms. In conventional hydropower generation, research on fish passage through reaction turbines at low-head dams suggested that strike and mortality for small fish could be low. As a consequence of the large surface area to mass ratio of small fish, the drag forces in the boundary layer flow at the surface of a rotor blade may pull small fish around the leading edge of a rotor blade without making physical contact (Turnpenny 1998, Turnpenny et al. 2000). Although there is concern that small, fragile fish early life stages may be unable to avoid being struck by the blades of hydrokinetic turbines, we found no empirical data in the published literature that document survival of earliest life-stage fish in passage by rotor blades. In addition to blade strike, research on passage of fish through conventional hydropower turbines suggested that fish mortalities from passage through the rotor swept area could also occur due to shear stresses and pressure chances in the water column (Cada et al. 1997, Turnpenny 1998). However, for most of the proposed HK turbine designs the rotors are projected to operate a lower RPM (revolutions per minute) than observed from conventional reaction turbines; the associated shear stress and pressure changes are expected to be lower and pose a smaller threat to fish survival (DOE 2009). Only a limited number of studies have been conducted to examine the risk of blade strike from hydrokinetic technologies to fish (Turnpenny et al. 1992, Normandeau et al. 2009, Seitz et al. 2011, EPRI 2011); the survival of drifting or weakly swimming fish (especially early life stages) that encounter rotor blades from hydrokinetic (HK) devices is currently unknown. Our study addressed this knowledge gap by testing how fish larvae and juveniles encountered different blade profiles of hydrokinetic devices and how such encounters influenced survivorship. We carried out a laboratory study designed to improve our understanding of how fish larvae and juvenile fish may be affected by encounters with rotor blades from HK turbines in the water column of river and ocean currents. (For convenience, these early life stages will be referred to as young of the year, YOY). The experiments developed information needed to quantify the risk (both probability and consequences) of rotor-blade strike to YOY fish. In particular, this study attempted to determine whether YOY drifting in a high-velocity flow directly in the path of the blade leading edge will make contact with the rotor blade or will bypass the blade while entrained in the boundary layer of water flowing over the blade surface. The study quantified both immediate and delayed mortalities (observed immediately, 3 hours, and 24 hours after encountering the blade) among freshwater YOY fish resulting from contact with the blade or turbulent flows in the wake of the blade.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1037662
Report Number(s):
ORNL/TM-2012/108
EB4500000; CEEB099; TRN: US201208%%188
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
13 HYDRO ENERGY; AQUATIC ORGANISMS; BOUNDARY LAYERS; COMBUSTION; DAMS; ELECTRICITY; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; ESTUARIES; FISHES; LARVAE; MISSISSIPPI RIVER; MORTALITY; PROBABILITY; RIVERS; ROTORS; SHEAR; STRESSES; SURFACE AREA; TURBINES; TURBULENT FLOW; WATER CURRENTS

Citation Formats

Schweizer, Peter E, Cada, Glenn F, and Bevelhimer, Mark S. Laboratory Experiments on the Effects of Blade Strike from Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies on Larval and Juvenile Freshwater Fishes. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.2172/1037662.
Schweizer, Peter E, Cada, Glenn F, & Bevelhimer, Mark S. Laboratory Experiments on the Effects of Blade Strike from Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies on Larval and Juvenile Freshwater Fishes. United States. doi:10.2172/1037662.
Schweizer, Peter E, Cada, Glenn F, and Bevelhimer, Mark S. Thu . "Laboratory Experiments on the Effects of Blade Strike from Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies on Larval and Juvenile Freshwater Fishes". United States. doi:10.2172/1037662. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1037662.
@article{osti_1037662,
title = {Laboratory Experiments on the Effects of Blade Strike from Hydrokinetic Energy Technologies on Larval and Juvenile Freshwater Fishes},
author = {Schweizer, Peter E and Cada, Glenn F and Bevelhimer, Mark S},
abstractNote = {There is considerable interest in the development of marine and hydrokinetic energy projects in rivers, estuaries, and coastal ocean waters of the United States. Hydrokinetic (HK) technologies convert the energy of moving water in river or tidal currents into electricity, without the impacts of dams and impoundments associated with conventional hydropower or the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) maintains a database that displays the geographical distribution of proposed HK projects in inland and tidal waters (FERC 2012). As of March 2012, 77 preliminary permits had been issued to private developers to study HK projects in inland waters, the development of which would total over 8,000 MW. Most of these projects are proposed for the lower Mississippi River. In addition, the issuance of another 27 preliminary permits for HK projects in inland waters, and 3 preliminary permits for HK tidal projects (totaling over 3,100 MW) were under consideration by FERC. Although numerous HK designs are under development (see DOE 2009 for a description of the technologies and their potential environmental effects), the most commonly proposed current-based projects entail arrays of rotating devices, much like submerged wind turbines, that are positioned in the high-velocity (high energy) river channels. The many diverse HK designs imply a diversity of environmental impacts, but a potential impact common to most is the risk for blade strike to aquatic organisms. In conventional hydropower generation, research on fish passage through reaction turbines at low-head dams suggested that strike and mortality for small fish could be low. As a consequence of the large surface area to mass ratio of small fish, the drag forces in the boundary layer flow at the surface of a rotor blade may pull small fish around the leading edge of a rotor blade without making physical contact (Turnpenny 1998, Turnpenny et al. 2000). Although there is concern that small, fragile fish early life stages may be unable to avoid being struck by the blades of hydrokinetic turbines, we found no empirical data in the published literature that document survival of earliest life-stage fish in passage by rotor blades. In addition to blade strike, research on passage of fish through conventional hydropower turbines suggested that fish mortalities from passage through the rotor swept area could also occur due to shear stresses and pressure chances in the water column (Cada et al. 1997, Turnpenny 1998). However, for most of the proposed HK turbine designs the rotors are projected to operate a lower RPM (revolutions per minute) than observed from conventional reaction turbines; the associated shear stress and pressure changes are expected to be lower and pose a smaller threat to fish survival (DOE 2009). Only a limited number of studies have been conducted to examine the risk of blade strike from hydrokinetic technologies to fish (Turnpenny et al. 1992, Normandeau et al. 2009, Seitz et al. 2011, EPRI 2011); the survival of drifting or weakly swimming fish (especially early life stages) that encounter rotor blades from hydrokinetic (HK) devices is currently unknown. Our study addressed this knowledge gap by testing how fish larvae and juveniles encountered different blade profiles of hydrokinetic devices and how such encounters influenced survivorship. We carried out a laboratory study designed to improve our understanding of how fish larvae and juvenile fish may be affected by encounters with rotor blades from HK turbines in the water column of river and ocean currents. (For convenience, these early life stages will be referred to as young of the year, YOY). The experiments developed information needed to quantify the risk (both probability and consequences) of rotor-blade strike to YOY fish. In particular, this study attempted to determine whether YOY drifting in a high-velocity flow directly in the path of the blade leading edge will make contact with the rotor blade or will bypass the blade while entrained in the boundary layer of water flowing over the blade surface. The study quantified both immediate and delayed mortalities (observed immediately, 3 hours, and 24 hours after encountering the blade) among freshwater YOY fish resulting from contact with the blade or turbulent flows in the wake of the blade.},
doi = {10.2172/1037662},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {3}
}

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