Research Papers: Flows in Complex Systems

Dynamic Modeling of Hydrokinetic Energy Extraction

[+] Author and Article Information
Veronica B. Miller1

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh, 3700 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261vbm4@pitt.edu

Laura A. Schaefer

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Pittsburgh, 3700 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261las149@pitt.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Fluids Eng 132(9), 091102 (Sep 23, 2010) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4002431 History: Received September 03, 2009; Revised August 10, 2010; Published September 23, 2010; Online September 23, 2010

The world is facing an imminent energy crisis. In order to sustain our energy supply, it is necessary to advance renewable technologies. Despite this urgency, however, it is paramount to consider the larger environmental effects associated with using renewable resources. Hydropower, in the past, has been seen as a viable resource to examine, given that its basics of mechanical to electrical energy conversion seem to have little effect on the environment. Discrete analysis of dams and in-stream diversion set-ups, although, has shown otherwise. Modifications to river flows and changes in temperature (from increased and decreased flows) cause adverse effects to fish and other marine life because of changes in their adaptive habitat. Recent research has focused on kinetic energy extraction in river flows, which may prove to be more sustainable, as this type of extraction does not involve a large reservoir or large flow modification. The field of hydrokinetic energy extraction is immature; little is known about the devices’ performance in the river environment and their risk of impingement, fouling, and suspension of sediments. The governing principles of hydrokinetic energy extraction are presented, along with a two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the system. Power extraction methods are compared and CFD model validation is presented. It is clear that more research is required in hydrokinetic energy extraction with an emphasis toward lower environmental and ecological impacts.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Hydrokinetic energy extraction device technologies

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Figure 2

Power comparison

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Figure 3

Initial mesh for a submerged water wheel. Horizontal dashed-line shows approximate location for midline velocity.

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Figure 4

Mesh detail around the turbine. Horizontal dashed-line shows approximate location for midline velocity

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Figure 7

Midline velocity comparison for meshes 0–4

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Figure 8

Midline velocity comparison for meshes refinements 3, 3.25, 3.5, 3.625, 3.6875, and 3.75

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Figure 9

Midline velocity comparison for mesh refinements 3.875, 3.9375, 4, 4.125, 4.25, and 4.375

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Figure 10

Midpoint velocity in m/s for varying meshing intervals

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Figure 11

Average mesh skew

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Figure 12

Velocity magnitude in m/s

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Figure 13

Velocity magnitude in m/s

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Figure 14

Top surface river velocity in m/s



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