Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Exploring Proof of Concept in Ocean Current Energy Extraction

EPA Grant Number: SU835500
Title: Exploring Proof of Concept in Ocean Current Energy Extraction
Investigators: Sundararajan, V , Delgadillo, Raul Delga
Current Investigators: Sundararajan, V , Awakian, Michael , Delgadillo, Raul Delga , Flaggs, Johnathan , Gomez, Roberto , Lou, Paul , Nash, Trent
Institution: University of California - Riverside
EPA Project Officer: Levinson, Barbara
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $14,972
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability



The objective of this project is to study the feasibility of generating electrical energy from ocean currents. The project will develop the hardware platform and will determine operating parameters so that the maximum amount of energy can be extracted under specific conditions.


The OCEE will consist of three main subsystems: 1) Turbine 2) Structure and 3) Electrical generation. The turbine will be rigidly attached to the underside of the buoy below the water surface in order to take advantage of surface currents. For the turbine to always face flow direction, the buoy and turbine’s shroud will have a teardrop geometry to naturally face upstream flow. The structure consists of a buoy and an anchor. Instead of excavating the ocean floor, a large anchor (mass) will be lowered to the ocean bed and attached to the turbine by a chain. This design allows for the turbine to be installed in a variety of locations while eliminating excavating costs. Electrical measurement devices will be located in the buoy to record the power output of the turbine and flow speeds. Material and design decisions will focus on structural integrity in a corrosive medium while having a minimal footprint on the environment. In Phase 1 project, a small-scale OCEE will be built and tested within a flow tank under laboratory conditions to verify whether the design preforms as expected. The laboratory-scale OCEE will test the concept design under controlled conditions. Scalability factors will be examined for scale builds of the OCEE to take place in Phase II of this project. The results of the work will be disseminated through publications in scientific journals and presentations in conferences.

Expected Results:

The small-scale OCEE is expected to yield a power density similar to that of an average wind turbine of comparable size. The project will result in specifications for materials, turbine geometries and turbine location/orientation that will extract the most energy from ocean currents.

Supplemental Keywords:

Renewable energy, Green energy

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report