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Towing Tank Measurements of Hydrodynamic Performance of a Horizontal Axis Tidal Turbine Under Unsteady Flow Conditions

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Trident Scholar Project rept. no. 423

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Tidal turbines harness hydrokinetic energy resulting from ocean tidal flows to generate power. This type of power generation is a potential source of clean, reliable renewable energy. However, the technology is still under development. The effects of unsteady flow conditions, specifically surface gravity waves, on tidal turbines have not been completely analyzed. The effects of waves on performance characteristics were assessed for a model horizontal axis tidal turbine selected by the Department of Energy and designed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL. The performance characteristics of the 125th scale model turbine were tested under unsteady flow conditions. Parameters including wave height, wave length and tow speed for the experiment were scaled to properly model flow conditions that a horizontal axis tidal turbine was expected to experience at a full scale. First, turbine rotational speed, torque and thrust were measured for steady flow conditions and unsteady flow conditions characterized by a range of incoming waves. Turbine performance characteristics, including thrust and power coefficients, were obtained as functions of rotor tip speed ratio for the unsteady flow conditions tested. The second experiment involved a detailed fluid flow survey in the near wake of the turbine with and without one of the waves utilized in the first experiment, as measured by Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters. The results provided a characterization of velocity fields in the near wake of the turbine, necessary information for the placement of multiple turbines in a larger array.

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  • Machinery and Tools
  • Fluid Mechanics

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