Turbine Design and Operation

Applied Ocean Current Turbine Flight Control

Led by William Baxley, MS, PE
Affiliated Home Campus: Harbor Branch
Affiliated Department: Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center
In-Person or Remote project


This proposed project includes the planning and specialized equipment design for the mooring, deployment, and recovery/maintenance activities relating to underwater Ocean Current Turbines (OCTs). Previous work on the OCTs and their control systems focused on hydrodynamic forces that rotate the device and cause vertical and horizontal excursions within the flow. Since maximum electrical power is created when OCTs are perpendicular to the flow, maintaining this orientation is vital to maximizing power production. The control of an OCT's location within the water column is also important, so that the system may move into depths where the flows are maximum and adjust to temporal variations in this depth. To function, however, the OCT must be securely attached to the seafloor through a mooring system that is tailored to the bottom type, water depth, and velocity profiles for the deployment location. The proposed project will immerse the participant in the design of a mooring system and procedures necessary to install, maintain, and recover an OCT. Participants will deepen their understanding of fluid dynamics, computer modeling, hydraulic and electric machine design, computer control, and instrumentation topics. Scaled prototypes of specialized tools would be built and tested using 3D printing technologies, along with microcontroller boards and electromechanical components. This work is the continuation of a previous REU site effort that was conducted by Emily Pippin under the supervision of William Baxley (see “2020 Projects and Participants” on this website).

HBOI ocean fish