Turbine Design and Reliability:

Drop-in Turbine Generator System

Led by Bill Baxley, P.E.
Affiliated Home Campus: Harbor Branch
Affiliated Department: Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center


Ocean currents are an untapped renewable energy resource. This is due to the difficulty in positioning, operating and retrieving a turbine system that must operate at depths up to 300 ft, where the total water depth is around 1,000 ft. The ocean current turbines being developed now, are stand alone. Therefore, in the event of failure, the entire system must be brought back to the surface for maintenance. To reduce the associated operational and maintenance costs this project developed a system that can maneuver a turbine’s rotor/generator in and out of a mechanical structure, without retrieving the entire ocean current turbine. A conceptual design of this “drop-in” rotor/generator system was created using a CAD (computer aided design) program, called SolidWorks. 3-D printed models were made to give an overview of the mechanical properties of the design. Research was conducted on hydraulic cylinders and linear actuators for the mechanisms that will move the rotors/generators within the system. Under the direction of the Chief Engineer Bill Baxley, Ocean Current Turbine prototypes were tested for torque, voltage, and power. These were tested in the canal at Harbor Branch by pushing the rotors/generators in front of a customized pontoon boat to simulate the ocean current forces.

Click here to watch the student presentation.

HBOI ocean fish