Hydrokinetic Research

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in partnership with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), other DOE laboratories, academic institutions, and industry developers, is involved in a number of research and development activities supporting DOE's Water Power Program mission, "... to research, test, and develop innovative technologies capable of generating renewable, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective electricity from water resources."

This web site highlights ORNL's research and development activities related to hydrokinetic (HK) energy technologies. These activities and products help developers advance hydrokinetic (HK) technologies to commercialization and help all stakeholders understand and resolve environmental issues.

HK technologies produce renewable electricity by converting the kinetic energy in waves and water currents. Research and development is needed to determine the recoverable kinetic energy resource, demonstrate the viability and performance of HK technologies, and reduce cost of HK-generated electricity. Environmental effects of these technologies are being evaluated through ORNL research.

Open-Centre Turbine Free Flow System Turbine

Open-Centre TurbineĀ  (Courtesy of OpenHydro Group Ltd.)

Free Flow System Turbine (Courtesy of Verdant Power, Inc.)

ORNL scientists are conducting laboratory, mesocosm, and field experiments of the potential impacts of MHK installation and operation, including:
  • Fish-machine interactions, effects on fish passage and blade strike
  • Effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on fish behavior
  • Effects of noise on fish behavior
  • Toxicity of MHK device coatings and lubricants
  • Alteration of habitats for aquatic organisms
For information on the DOE's water power program and the important contribution of water power to a clean and secure energy future, refer to the EERE web site: http://water.energy.gov