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EPSRC Reference: EP/J010359/1
Title: Interactions of flow, tidal stream turbines and local sediment bed under combined waves and tidal conditions (INSTRON)
Principal Investigator: Dong, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Davies, Professor P Amoudry, Dr LO Brown, Professor RE
McLelland, Dr SJ Moate, Dr BD Parsons, Professor DR
Lukaschuk, Dr S Li, Dr M Thorne, Professor PD
Murphy, Mr B J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
H R Wallingford Ltd
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Dundee
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 28 September 2012 Ends: 27 February 2016 Value (£): 854,683
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Marine & Hydropower
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Nov 2011 SUPERGEN Marine Challenge - Accelerating the Deployment of Marine Energy (Wave and Tidal) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The increased political recognition in recent years of the economic and societal benefits of renewable energy systems has led to an increased pace of technological advances in such systems and an increased urgency to deploy renewable energy devices on land and in coastal waters. At the same time, there has been a realisation that, in order to exploit fully the opportunities for renewable power generation, it is necessary to be aware of (and to adjust to) a wide range of environmental disturbances in the vicinity of the power generation installations themselves. The present project examines this potential conflict for the case of a tidal stream turbine (TST) - a device installed in tidal waters to generate power by the rotation of a set of rotor blades driven by the tidal current. It is known that flow passing TST support structure combined with the rotation of the turbine rotors produces a turbulent downstream wake that can be sufficiently energetic to disturb the stability of the sediments on the sea bed on which the turbine is constructed and affect the sediment suspension. This may have significant impact on the sea floor topography and adverse consequences for the indigenous marine flora and fauna displaced by the geomorphologiocal changes and changes of suspended sediment in water. As a result, large-scale implementation of TST devices is often viewed with serious concern by environmental and ecological agencies, the fisheries authorities and local communities dependent economically on the affected zones.

Thus far, little is known about the nature of the pressure distributions within the turbulent wakes of the rotors and the mechanisms by which these wake flows perturb the sediments in water and on the seabed. For cases in which several tidal stream turbines are constructed in an array, the configuration of the sea bed sediments is subjected to complex pressure distributions arising from from each of the constituent installations and the prediction of sea floor sediment response is even more uncertain. Because of these knowledge gaps in predicting the sea bed response, developers of TST projects have presently to carry out costly environmental monitoring programs in order to obtain environmental permission for installation of devices.

The marine environment, especially in those areas that are subject to strong tidal currents, is usually subject to complex sediment transport dynamics. The main aim of the proposed research is, therefore, to develop advanced computational tools to overcome the above knowledge gaps, in order to predict the consequences of complex interactions between tidal flow, tidal stream turbines and the sea floor sediment bed under combined waves and tidal conditions. The research will build upon results from previous research programmes such as Supergen I and II.

To tackle the above uncertainties, computational and laboratory modelling studies will be carried out (i) to investigate the fundamental processes controlling the complex flow-TST-sediment interactions and (ii) to improve practical prediction methods that can be used not only by engineers in full-scale TST planning and design but also by regulatory authorities monitoring environmental and ecological consequences of installing TST arrays. The research will take a systematic, multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach involving analysis, physical model experiments and numerical modelling components to address and delineate the key processes affecting the sea bed response to TST placements in coastal waters
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Organisation Website: http://www.dundee.ac.uk