Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Waterpower Program to evaluate strike potential and consequences for Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies in rivers and estuaries of the United States. We will use both predictive models and laboratory/field experiments to evaluate the likelihood and consequences of strike at HK projects in rivers. Efforts undertaken at ORNL address three objectives:
- Assess strike risk for marine and freshwater organisms;
- Develop experimental procedures to assess the risk and consequences of strike; and
- Conduct strike studies in experimental flumes and field installations of hydrokinetic devices.
During the first year of the study ORNL collected information from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) MHK database about geographical distribution of proposed hydrokinetic projects (what rivers or other types of systems), HK turbine design (horizontal axis, vertical axis, other), description of proposed axial turbine (number of blades, size of blades, rotation rate, mitigation measures), and number of units per project. Where site specific information was available, we compared the location of proposed projects’ rotors within the channel (e.g., along cutting edge bank, middle of thalweg, near bottom or in midwater) to the general locations of fish in the river (shoreline, bottom/midwater/surface of channel) to ascertain potential interactions. In addition, we are collaborating and communicating with scientists at other national laboratories and industry who are also developing information useful to this task. For example, other studies being funded by DOE include evaluations of different in-current (hydrokinetic) turbine designs for their effects on rates and severity of blade strike and likelihood of cavitation.