Material and Cost Efficient Modular Riverine Hydrokinetic Energy System

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Program:
SHARKS
Award:
$3,333,360
Location:
Fairbanks,
Alaska
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
07/21/2021 - 07/21/2024
Website:

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:

The University of Alaska Fairbanks' BladeRunner concept is expected to reduce operating expenses by 50% while significantly reducing infrastructure and personnel requirements on site. These improvements result in an LCOE of $0.0755 $/kWh. BladeRunner employs a floating generator housing and tethered turbine to create a HKT system that has low capital and operating costs and is well suited for community co-design. The turbine is coupled to the generator by a flexible torsion-cable that transmits mechanical power while allowing the turbine to deflect around debris. This technology combines three innovative solutions to reduce remote riverine HKT LCOE: (1) the highly material-efficient BladeRunner architecture increases swept area per equivalent mass by 130% over the base case; (2) the implementation of C-Motive's novel electrostatic generator efficiently converts low speed mechanical rotation into grid-voltage electricity; and (3) the BladeRunner modular design enables a shore-based deployment and retrieval method.

Potential Impact:

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

Security:

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

Environment:

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.

Economy:

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.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Benjamin Loeffler
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
bloeffler@alaska.edu

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Release Date:
11/24/2020