Hydropower plants are the main source of renewable energy from moving water. However, traditional dam systems are somewhat controversial since they are large and often require population relocation, disrupt fish migration, and change the natural flow of the river. Hydrokinetic systems are currently being developed which can harness energy from flowing water with less ecological impact. One hydrokinetic system that may be promising, a hydrokite system, consists of an oscillating arm, boom, and a translating hydrofoil. Due to the hydrodynamic forces caused by the water's velocity, the hydrokite moves back and forth extracting energy from the flow. Previous simulations have shown that power production for this system depends on at least ten different parameters. Little experimental work has been done on hydrokite systems to validate the results of these simulations. This work focused on the experimental testing of a lab-scale hydrokite system. Tests were run to determine the system power trends with respect to hydrofoil angles, boom flip angles, pivot-point location on hydrofoil, tow speed, and hydrofoil submerged depth.
Single dimension parameter tests were done to determine the changes in average cycle power for the system as a function of a given parameter. Power production was highly sensitive to changes in hydrofoil angles (for hydrofoils pivoting at both the quarter and half-chord point). The optimal hydrofoil angle for the tests that were run was approximately β = 60° - 80°. As predicted, the power production increases with increased tow speed and submerged depth, neglecting energy used to flip the hydrofoil. Changes in boom flip angle did not significantly affect power production for the quarter-chord tests, but appeared to be significant in the half-chord tests. Although the largest power produced in all of this testing was approximately 0.14 Watts, this initial testing of the lab-scale system has given us some insight into the important design decisions that will need to be made in order to scale-up the system.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Hydroelectric power plants--Mathematical models; Hydrodynamics; Kites
Mechanical Engineering (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)
Mario W. Gomes
Gosavi, Shriya, "Experimental Performance Study of a Lab-Scale Hydrokite System" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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