Developing a Debris-Resistant Hydrokinetic Turbine to Power Remote Communities

Friday, February 12, 2016
Shadi Bavar, Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Worcester, MA
Hydrokinetic river turbines are used to power remote communities that do not have access to electricity. These turbines face significant challenges with debris, which clogs the rotors and generates the need for maintenance. Three hydrokinetic turbine rotors were designed to be inherently debris-resistant. Preliminary tests were conducted with foam board prototypes and the best design was determined. It was modeled in four versions using the CAD software SolidWorks and printed on a 3D MakerBot printer in PLA plastic. A traditional model of rotor was designed to provide comparison in the debris tests. The prototypes were subjected to testing in water, where debris was introduced into the flow and the interaction with the rotors was observed. The power output of the debris-resistant prototypes was measured under clear conditions. An improved prototype was designed and submitted to the same testing procedure. It was considerably more debris-resistant than the traditional model and performed better than the original designs. It was not the most efficient prototype, generating power with an efficiency of 0.6%. The best-performing prototype had an efficiency of 1.6%. Future extensions to this project include the construction of a larger model and extensive tests in real environments to improve the debris-resistance and the performance of the rotor.