The ocean's tides are a powerful natural phenomenon. Here in
Maine, tidal fluctuations
of 10 feet are not uncommon. In Eastern Maine and in The Bay of Fundy, Canada, tidal
fluctuations approach 60 feet (18 meters). This mass of moving water
represents a large amount of potential energy that could be harnessed and used
to generate electricity on a large scale. In many places, tidal turbines
are the solution to capturing this energy. Operating much like wind turbines,
these turbines are placed in tight ocean passages, where the vertical tidal fluctuation
is translated into high velocity currents due to the restrictions of the coastal
Our task is to design and test model tidal turbines that can be easily
replicated, allowing us to generate performance data which can be made public
and confirmed by others. Making our
research available to everyone should help organizations everywhere to better harness
this clean source of energy, and our designs could possibly be used as a
quality baseline for this emerging industry.
Our models will be tested using a tow tank here on campus with a system designed by our partner group
in this project. In addition, we will be pooling resources with
students and professors at MMA and MIT to complete our designs.
In November, Maine State Senator Peter Mills visited the University of Maine and came to Crosby Laboratory to
learn about potential sources of alternative energy. Along with our partner group, we prepared a
short presentation to demonstrate the potential for tidal turbines in Maine, and to explain
the scope of our senior project.