Customized Tidal Power Conversion Devices

Brown University
Marine Hydrokinetic Energy Harvesting Using Cyber-Physical Systems
ARPA-E Award: 
Providence, RI
Project Term: 
03/20/2013 to 11/19/2016
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Renewable energy is critical to our environmental, economic, and national security. Demand for energy is on the rise, as is our national reliance on fossil fuel-based power plants for the bulk of our electricity generation. There is a drastic need for safe, clean, and cost-effective alternatives to coal, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal power. These technologies would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and help position the U.S. as a leader in the global renewable energy industry.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Brown University is developing a power conversion device to maximize power production and reduce costs to capture energy from flowing water in rivers and tidal basins. Conventional methods to harness energy from these water resources face a number of challenges, including the costs associated with developing customized turbine technology to a specific site. Additionally, sites with sufficient energy exist near coastal habitats which depend on the natural water flow to transport nutrients. Brown University's tidal power conversion devices can continuously customize themselves by using an onboard computer and control software to respond to real-time measurements, which will increase tidal power conversion efficiency. Brown University's technology will allow for inexpensive installation and software upgrades and optimized layout of tidal power generators to maximize power generation and mitigate environmental impacts.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Brown University's tidal power conversion device would reduce the costs of producing electricity from flowing water and reduce harmful emissions associated with energy production because there are no emissions associated with tidal power conversion.
Increased availability of renewable power would help diversify the U.S. energy portfolio, allowing homeowners and businesses access to a grid that is less dependent on any one source of power.
Providing clean electricity would significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation. Presently, over 40% of U.S. CO2 emissions come from electricity generation.
Enabling alternative sources of energy like wind and solar can help stabilize and reduce the price of energy. This could result in significant cost savings over fossil fuels in the years to come.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact: 
Prof. Shreyas Mandre
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Release Date: