TEAMER Network Director Announces RFTS 10 Technical Support Recipients

On August 18, 2023 the U.S. Testing Expertise and Access to Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program selected ten projects through its tenth Request for Technical Support (RFTS), reflecting a total funding amount of more than $1 million. These projects will receive support for testing expertise and access to numerical modeling, laboratory or bench testing, tank/flume testing, and expertise within the growing TEAMER Facility Network. Selected applicants, along with their supporting Facility, will now submit their completed Test Plans, a requirement before assistance activities can commence. Applications for RFTS 11 are currently being accepted through November 3, 2023.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and directed by the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, TEAMER accelerates the viability of marine renewables by providing access to the nation’s best facilities and expertise to solve critical challenges, build knowledge, foster innovation, and drive commercialization.

The following projects have been selected to proceed:

CyTroniQ – Electrical Cable for Marine Renewable Energy: Integrity after Seawater Exposure

Facility: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Most hydrokinetic marine energy devices convert water motion to electricity that is returned to shore in export cables. By monitoring data from CyTro-X distributed sensors embedded in these cables, operators can schedule and dispatch crews for line maintenance and repair, resulting in lower costs and less downtime. In this study CyTro-X distributed sensors will be embedded in power and fiber optics signal cables, and the assemblies will be exposed to seawater for 3-5 months.

Technicians will measure biofouling throughout the tests. Tensile and bending tests will be performed before and after seawater exposure to show that the cables are not damaged by exposure and loads, that the sensors report strain in cables accurately, and that the sensors do not degrade with exposure to seawater.

E-Wave Technologies LLC – New Technology Qualifications for a Small-Scale Wave Energy Converter Powering Offshore Aquaculture

Facility: American Bureau of Shipping

American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) will conduct New Technology Qualification (NTQ) of E-Wave’s innovative WEC design and issue the statement of maturity letter after the qualification process. In this project, ABS will focus on the concept verification stage based on the existing testing and numerical data.

Emrgy, Inc. – Performance Enhancement Testing and Dynamic Design Optimization of a Vertical Axis Hydrokinetic Turbine

Facility: University of Washington Harris Hydraulics Laboratory – Alice C. Tyler Flume

Emrgy Inc. will work in collaboration with the University of Washington to achieve a deeper understanding of a variety of potential improvements to their current state of the art for modular vertical axis hydrokinetic (HK) turbines. To date with over 30 deployments, a variety of turbine numerical modeling and CFD techniques, and TEAMER funded testing & modeling, Emrgy’s turbines have been hydrodynamically designed to optimize performance and deliver up to 45 kW of clean electric power.

The University of Washington will deploy multiple physical scale models of potential future design aspects in their test flume. From this research, the impacts of different blade pitch angles, effects of variable accelerator wall to canal hydraulics, and performance improvement potential with dynamic rotor heights.

iProTech – Advanced Modeling and Control of iProTech’s PIP Wave Energy Converter Prototype

Facility: WEC-Sim Facility

Accurate modeling is crucial for successful wave energy converter (WEC) deployments. This project builds upon the collaboration between iProTech and NREL to model the PIP concept, a promising innovation in wave energy conversion. Our primary focus now is to design and optimize a prototype Power Take-Off (PTO) system with active control. The utilization of numerical models in previous work has already optimized the PIP’s geometry, mass distribution, and internal mechanics. Now, iProTech aim to construct a physical PTO prototype for dry tests at NREL’s Flatiron’s Campus, which will subsequently undergo sea trials by integrating it into an optimized hull. This project’s objective is to support iProTech as they advance the PIP to the prototype stage; taking a significant step towards harnessing ocean wave energy.

James Marson – James Marson Water Wave Power Generator

Facility: Sandia National Laboratories / WEC-Sim Facility

The Marson device is a modular, scalable attenuator type device that is, in distinct configurations, useful as an independent floating body or affixed to another surface structure. With a complementary controller acting on actuators between modules, the hydrodynamically active geometry is highly tunable, and offers broad-banded efficient capture of electrical energy.

Laminar Scientific Inc. – Numerical Analysis of a Novel Nearshore At-Surface WEC

Facility: AMOG Consulting

Laminar Scientific is building upon the research and publication carried out in RFTS 4 regarding a concave buoy, but with further modifications that allow for a low number of moving parts, a passive severe force protection system and a more manufacturable design. For RFTS 10, Laminar Scientific will work with AMOG Consulting to carry out numerical analysis to analyze the performance of this WEC, analyze sensitivities to varied damping coefficients and stiffness, along with testing the different configurations of the severe force protection system.

Michigan Technological University – Experimental Validation and Analysis of Deep Reinforcement Learning Control for Wave Energy Converters

Facility: Oregon State University

Michigan Technological University (applicant) and Oregon State University (facility) will collaborate to experimentally validate and analyze the practical performance of developed Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) controls for Wave Energy Converters (WECs) through wave tank tests. The main objective of this project is to gain insights into the real-world effectiveness of DRL controls across various critical factors, while also identifying the challenges and limitations associated with the practical implementation of the controls. The findings of this project can enhance the understanding of the practical performance, challenges, and limitations of the DRL controls, potentially enable WECs to operate in an optimal, robust, and adaptive manner subject to highly dynamic and complex ocean environments, and lead to extensive datasets for validation and future improvements in the field.

Triton Anchor – Modular Group Helical Pile Anchor Structural Analysis

Facility: Stress Engineering Services

Triton Anchor’s mission is lowering the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for the marine renewable energy (MRE) industry by focusing on one of the costliest portions of offshore field development, anchoring. Triton Anchor’s collaboration with Stress Engineering Services (SES) is focused on providing cost-effective anchoring solutions for the MRE industry unlike anything in the market. This solution is aimed at optimizing a plate-caisson anchoring system to minimize material and manufacturing costs while effectively increasing the holding capacity per unit weight. SES with its nearly 50 years of experience in offshore Finite Element Analysis, will provide structural numerical capabilities to analyze the anchor beam members under realistic MRE loading scenarios to lower the total steel weight of the anchor without minimizing its capacity.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth – Enhancing and Optimization of MADWEC Performance through Numerical Simulations

Facility: WEC-Sim Facility

This project provides technical assistance to the development of a wave energy converter (WEC) device developed at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The device is called MADWEC, which stands for maximal asymmetric drag wave energy converter. It is a point absorber device designed to be low-cost, low-maintenance, and easily deployable. Guided by cost-saving initiatives, MADWEC uses several “off-the-shelf” commercially available parts. Through computational simulations, this project will help enhance and optimize the performance of MADWEC and improve its power output. This RFTS10 award builds off the previous RFTS6 award where the TEAMER collaboration led to the development of the first WEC-Sim model of the MADWEC. The model includes custom hydrodynamic features that allow for bi-directional added mass to be modeled in the ballast.

University of Washington – Optimal Control of an Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Converter

Facility: National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Marine Renewable Energy Small Wave Tank

The University of Washington (UW) is requesting support from NREL to run experiments that evaluate the benefits of using model predictive control (MPC) to optimize power absorbed by a laboratory-scale oscillating surge wave energy converter (OSWEC). MPC is a promising technique to optimize wave energy converter (WEC) behavior while applying system constraints that can help promote structural integrity and device survivability, but there are few studies that experimentally test this control scheme on WECs. Therefore, UW is proposing a series of tests that will assess the benefits of MPC experimentally in response to a variety of sea states. For these tests, UW will provide the OSWEC device and DAQ, and requests support from NREL to use and operate the wave tank for experiments.