Remote acoustic measurements of turbulence in high-speed flows with application to in-stream tidal turbine development: The Vectron project

Lay Summary 

The overall goals of the project are: (I) to improve the knowledge and understanding of turbulence in high flow

tidal channels; and (II) to reduce the high uncertainty surrounding the effects of turbulence on in-stream

turbines. Specific main objectives are: (1) estimates - with error bounds - of higher-order turbulence statistics,

with an emphasis on the statistics of extremes; (2) quantitative comparisons between model-predicted

turbulence fields and measurements; (3) quantifying the turbulent contribution to Doppler noise levels in high

flow environments; and (4) improved assumptions concerning the turbulence metrics used by in-stream turbine

engineering community.

Our approach combines state-of-the-art acoustic Doppler technique with advanced computational fluid

dynamics modelling. A newly-developed acoustic Doppler system - the Vectron - will be used to make the

necessary measurements in Minas Passage in the Bay of Fundy - arguably the site with the greatest tidal power

potential worldwide. The Vectron represents a major advance in flow measurement technology, incorporating

wide-baseline convergent-beam geometry with a new pulse-coherent processing algorithm to achieve

co-located, high sampling rate, turbulence-resolving velocity measurements at or near turbine "hub height".

Turbulence-resolving Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) models employing state-of-the-art Graphical

Processing Unit (GPU) techniques will be implemented for the turbine berth area in Minas Passage, with

boundary conditions provided by a tidal circulation model encompassing the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine.

The significance of the proposed research is two-fold. (1) Fundamental: The combined measurement and

modelling program will provide new knowledge, insight and understanding of turbulence in high flow tidal

channels. (2) Applied: By quantifying the recurrence frequencies of extreme velocity fluctuations in Minas

Passage, the tidal power community will have - for the first time - a reliable basis for assessing the effects of

turbulence on turbine design, performance and operational life in this and similarly challenging environments.

Physics and Physical Oceanography
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Tidal Energy
Physics & Physical Oceanography
Industry Sectors 
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution
Scientific Research and Development Services
Start date 
1 Apr 2017
End date 
31 Mar 2019
Partner Organization 
Cape Sharp Tidal
Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy