Improving the power performance and reliability of marine hydrokinetic technologies.

Sandia’s Water Power Technologies program develops innovative technological solutions for  marine hydrokinetic (MHK) devices. Before MHK technologies can successfully compete in the energy market, developers must increase device power performance and reliability, thereby reducing the levelized cost of energy.  Through applied research and modeling efforts, we provide industry with tools to create better devices.  Our contributions include:

Model Development & Validation

WEC-Sim enables users to model the responses of a variety of devices including the oscillating surge wave energy converter modeled in this image.

WEC-Sim enables users to model the responses of a variety of devices including the oscillating surge wave energy converter modeled in this image.

Sandia’s open-source computational tools provide developers with cost-effective, efficient methods of comparing the power production, reliability and survivability of MHK devices. Accurate predictive design tools allow developers to minimize cost by reducing uncertainty that results in overly-conservative design and safety margins. Similarly, computational tools for simulating MHK device arrays allow multiple configurations to be evaluated for power performance, shadowing effects, and impacts to the surrounding marine environment without the need for costly deployments or tank tests.

 

WEC-Sim (Wave Energy Converter SIMulator) is an open-source wave energy converter (WEC) code jointly development by Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. WEC-Sim has the ability to model WECs that are comprised of rigid bodies, joints, power-take-off, and mooring. Simulations using WEC-Sim are performed in the time-domain by solving the governing WEC equations of motion in 6 degrees-of-freedom, and simulate WEC performance when subject to operational waves.

Contact: Kelley Ruehl – kmruehl@sandia.gov

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WECs must be able to withstand large amplitude motions, wave slamming, wave overtopping, and other extreme sea states. The inability to determine a device’s response to these conditions can result in device failure or costly overdesign. To address this issue, Sandia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are developing methodologies for predicting a device’s response to extreme conditions.

Contact: Ryan Coe – rcoe@sandia.gov

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Sandia developed the open-source code, CACTUS (Code for Axial and Cross-flow Turbine Simulation, center diagonal), as a mid-fidelity design and analysis tool to evaluate and optimize power performance and analyze wake flow recovery. We leverage our high-performance computing capabilities to apply high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics models to analyze complex flow interactions, parasitic drag, and other effects that can degrade power performance.

Contact: Vince Neary – vsneary@sandia.gov

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Sandia is joining European researchers to create open-source design tools for wave and tidal energy converter arrays. When complete, these tools will mitigate costs for developers, resulting in industry advancement.
Contact: Jesse Roberts – jdrober@sandia.gov

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MHK Research & Design

Composite Fabrication and Performance Testing

Composite Fabrication and Performance Testing

To make MHK technologies commercially viable, developers must improve  devices’ power performance and reliability. Our high-risk, high-impact research and development efforts provide innovative solutions to technical boundaries preventing commercialization. Our research and design efforts include:

  • Developing advanced materials such as novel coatings and composites.
  • Defining and validating control strategies for wave energy converters (WECs) to improve power performance.
  • Creating open-source reference models of MHK devices. These models provide industry with techno-economic benchmarks and methodologies for evaluating a variety of devices.

Sandia tests and develops novel materials to improve MHK performance and reliability while minimizing adverse affects such biofouling. As part of this effort, we helped create the SNL/MSU/DOE Materials Database which allows developers to compare materials for MHK devices.

Download the SNL/MSU/DOE MHK Materials Database.

Contact: Bernadette Hernandez – baherna@sandia.gov

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Sandia develops and validates control strategies to significantly increase power delivery for WECs. This research will enable developers to design devices capable of power conversion over a wide range of frequencies, thereby reducing the cost of energy.

Contact: Ryan Coe

 

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Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are collaborating to develop assessment methods and identify technical challenges, both common and unique to the U.S. WEC industry. These findings will provide an opportunity for WEC technology developers to systematically improve their technologies to make them economically viable for the commercial market.

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Sandia designed and tested reference models for six MHK technologies. These open-source models provide industry with technical and economic benchmarks and methodologies for design evaluation.

Contact: Vince Neary – vsneary@sandia.gov

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Test Facility Support & Construction

Pacific Marine Renewable Energy Center North Energy Test Site

Pacific Marine Renewable Energy Center North Energy Test Site

Sandia works with government agencies and industry to establish a MHK testing infrastructure capable of meeting all industry needs in the U.S. We offer expertise in site selection, permit consultation, and preliminary design, operation and maintenance reviews. By reducing financial and technical risks for developers, we help advance MHK technology towards successful commercialization.

 

Sandia catalogs test site infrastructure, met-ocean data, and resource characteristics for wave energy converter test and utility-scale deployment sites in the United States using consistent methodologies, including those developed by the international standards organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). This information allows wave energy planners and technology developers to select appropriate sites for commercial wave farms and provides critical inputs for device design and testing.

Sandia supports the development of the South Energy Test Site at the Pacific Marine Renewable Energy Center in Oregon. When complete, this facility will be the nation’s first full-service, grid-connected facility for utility-scale testing. We provide technical expertise on interconnections and power pod components and assess infrastructure scenarios to assist the creation of an offshore substation for this site. By selecting optimal transmission and interconnection components, we increase the value of the test site for future device testing.

We support California Polytechnic State University’s effort to create a grid connected test facility to assess individual and WEC arrays. When complete, this facility will allow developers to test devices’ performance, environmental impacts, and other operation and maintenance functions. We aid site development by providing expertise in:
•Wave energy characterization for site selection,
•WEC design, operation, maintenance and testing considerations,
•Wave, current and sediment mobility analysis, and
•Predictive model development.

Wave Energy Demonstrations

In-water demonstrations of wave energy conversion (WEC) devices are necessary for gathering baseline performance data, gaining operational experience, and identifying key cost drivers of leading device designs. Sandia’s demonstration activities focus on fully maturing the technical readiness of state-of-the-art technologies.

U.S. Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin (MASK) (Photo provided by NSWC Carderock Division/Released)

Members of Sandia’s Water Power Technology program serve as judges and advisers for DOE’s Wave Energy Prize competition. By giving participants an opportunity to engage in tank testing of scaled WEC devices, this competition will mobilize new and existing developers and provide valuable data about WEC designs.

Contact: Tim Crawford: tjcrawf@sandia.gov