Control Co-design and Co-optimization of a Transformational Cost-Efficient Hydrokinetic Energy Turbine System

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New Bedford, Massachusetts
Project Term:
09/30/2021 - 09/29/2024

Critical Need:

Significant technical and environmental barriers make current Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) systems prohibitively expensive. Hydrokinetic energy systems’ low technical readiness calls for a system-level approach that will include hydrodynamics, structural dynamics, control systems, power electronics, grid connections, and performance optimization, while minimizing potential negative environmental effects and maximizing system reliability. The challenging, multi-disciplinary nature of this design space means many systems haven’t moved beyond the theoretical design phase. Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS) aims to use control co-design (CCD), co-design (CD), and designing for operation and maintenance (DFO) methodologies to develop radically new HKTs for tidal and riverine applications that drastically reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). This program aims to address industry-wide limitations to provide economical hydrokinetic power at micro-grid and utility scale.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

To advance in-current marine and riverine hydrokinetic energy conversion through a step change in levelized cost of energy, Littoral Power Systems, Inc., and its partners propose to design, fabricate, and test a novel in-current hydrokinetic energy turbine device that imposes no net torque on the mooring. It is a submersed buoyant vehicle on a single flexible tether that flies a turbine up in the water column. The team will use a control co-design engineering framework to characterize and numerically optimize the system for minimized LCOE through three parallel activities: (1) minimize and balance key design-driving loads and trade active versus passive techniques to control dynamics on soft moorings; (2) analyze dynamic interactions among system components to determine where functions can be integrated and controls applied with greatest efficacy; and (3) analyze key cost drivers for deployment, retrieval, and operations to determine where marine robotics techniques can be integrated to have the greatest impact on lowering costs and/or increasing system availability.

Potential Impact:

Hydrokinetic energy is an abundant renewable energy source that presents unique opportunities and benefits.


Diverse renewable energy resources can boost grid resiliency and reduce infrastructure vulnerabilities.


HKTs, used to capture energy from tides, rivers, canals, and ocean currents, optimize a clean, renewable power source that could help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.


Hydrokinetic energy has applications beyond solely providing power to electrical grids. It is ideally suited to the emerging technologies and markets built upon ocean- and riverine-based infrastructure, including climatological observation, aquaculture, desalination, ocean floor and seawater mining, disaster recovery, powering isolated communities, and autonomous underwater vehicle support.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
David Duquette
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