If we've paid our bills, we rarely wonder whether a light will turn on in our home when we flip a switch. Join Sue Skemp as she explores a different option: ocean currents, on a journey to a blue energy future!
Experimental Ocean Current Turbine
A generic non-commercial experimental research turbine is being built to provide a non-proprietary platform for turbine component development at small scales, to test monitoring and failure prediction systems, to gain experience in at-sea operations of this nature, and to support standards and protocol development. This turbine is based upon a simple and generic flow energy extraction approach: an axial turbine with one rotor. The rotor diameter is approximately 3 meters (9 ft.), and the overall length of the turbine is approximately 2.5 meters (7 ft.). When exposed to 2.5 m/s (5 kt.) flow, the turbine will generate up to 20 kW of electrical power. Where does that electricity go? Well, it first re-charges all of the batteries which operate the computers that monitor and operate the turbine, and then the rest is simply transformed into heat which is radiated into the atmosphere.
The SNMREC’s engineers will first design, build, and then test the mechanical and electrical systems separately, in a laboratory setting. Then, a vessel will tow the turbine after it has been integrated and fully assembled. This way, the SNMREC’s engineers can safely control how fast the turbine spins by varying the tow vessel’s speed. When the small scale offshore test berth is ready, the tow vessel will simply tie up to the buoy offshore to begin experiments in the Gulf Stream Current.