Yue Cao, center, and Ted Brekken, right, affiliated faculty with the Pacific Marine Energy Center, work on rotating machinery in the Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility lab.

Engineering researchers at Oregon State University are collaborating with colleagues at the University of Michigan on a project to convert river and ocean currents into electric current, using reconfigurable, high-efficiency micro-turbines. 

The research is supported by a $3.9 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, through its SHARKS (Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems) program, one of 11 projects announced in November, totaling $35 million.

The Michigan project, dubbed “RAFT: Reconfigurable Array of High-Efficiency Ducted Turbines for Hydrokinetic Energy Harvesting,” bases its approach on an array of micro-turbines with a modularized architecture and reconfigurable units, making it adaptable to different applications and marine environments. 

The RAFT team incorporates experts in hydrodynamics, structural dynamics, control systems, power electronics, grid connections, and performance optimization. Oregon State’s team, led by Yue Cao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is specifically responsible for the electrical energy conversion subsystem, including hardware and control designs from the generator terminals to the grid connections. Ted Brekken, professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of the Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility, will support the effort.

“What’s particularly appealing about this project is that it’s focused on making the technology practical, giving strong consideration to environmental impact and economic viability,” Cao said. “Also, because our team is multidisciplinary, our project will apply concurrent, as opposed to sequential, design methodologies — namely control co-design, as highlighted by the SHARKS program.”

The team will develop new hydrokinetic turbine designs to harvest energy from tidal and riverine currents. The project will significantly reduce the levelized cost of energy, a measure of the average lifetime cost of energy-generating technology per unit of energy generated. 

“Hydrokinetic energy is an abundant renewable resource that can boost grid resiliency and reduce infrastructure vulnerability, but it is currently cost-prohibitive compared to other sources,” Cao said. “The RAFT concept is a promising candidate to address this barrier by designing new, efficient systems to harness our nation’s tidal, riverine, and ocean resources.” 

Levelized cost reductions will be realized through multiple approaches, Cao says, including increasing generation efficiency, increasing rotor area relative to mass, lowering operation and maintenance costs, reducing impacts on the environment, and improving system reliability.

Keith Hautala

Travis Good, MAKE magazine contributing editor, OSU alum, and maker movement champion.Are you a self-proclaimed tinkerer? A maker? A rabid supporter of DIY culture? If so, consider attending a free public lecture called “A Community of Makers” on Monday, April 21 at 5 p.m at LaSells Stewart Center.

Sponsored by the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts, OSU Libraries, Austin Entrepreneurship Program, and Create@OregonState, the lecture will feature a talk by Travis Good, MAKE magazine contributing editor, OSU alum, and maker movement champion. He will answer the question “What’s the big deal about ‘making’?” He’ll share how making is transforming the landscape of education, supporting STEM / STEAM initiatives, and motivating people to engage in learning-by doing. He’ll also explain why making represents an opportunity for you.

Stick around for a hands-on micro maker faire beginning at 6 p.m. to see the innovative, playful, and engaging ways some of our local makers are already creating.

For information or disability accommodation:
541-737-6535
create@oregonstate.edu

The Oregon State University campus has seen a number of intriguing questions raised this fall:

  • Imagine an orchestra of musicians, but instead of oboes, violins, and flutes, each person on stage has a networked laptop computer and custom-designed speaker. As a group they are capable of filling a concert hall with evocative and remarkable sound. What creations are possible for such a “laptop orchestra”?
  • Consider also how technology can help us visualize and understand in new ways the tremendous volume of data we can now collect about our world — can this data be “art” and how in that sense can art help science?
  • Everyone gets that technology evolves at a breakneck pace. But what about the ways in which this pace of change transforms how we see and understand the world around us, through our cities, and houses, and daily activities? Continue reading
ChickTechOne-hundred high school girls got first-hand experience with web programming, object-oriented 3D programming, circuits, and more at ChickTech, a workshop co-hosted by Oregon State’s Women and Minorities in Engineering Program. The brainchild of Oregon State alumnus Janice Levenhagen-Seeley, ChickTech is a Portland-based organization focused on building a multi-generational community of women in technology. The organization has presented workshops or events in Portland and Corvallis, with the goal of adding a new city each year. Hoping to address the lack of females in technology-based programs such as engineering and science, they offer hands-on learning opportunities to show young girls that it’s not all boring desk work. Read more…
dreamingfids1
Dreaming FIDS, a public art installation by Shona Kitchen, sits in the departure lounge at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California.

The college will host a visiting artist lecture series as part of a new partnership between arts and engineering on the Oregon State campus.

Acclaimed visual artist Shona Kitchen kicks off the series on October 10 with her lecture “Technological Landscapes.” Kitchen is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist/designer with a passion for technological advancement and architecture/interaction design. The talk will take place October 10 on the Oregon State campus in Owen Hall, Room 102 from 6-7 p.m.

“In this seminar series we have invited artists who have successfully integrated technology into their art work to discuss the process, what questions they address and how working with interdisciplinary teams drives and informs the artistic process,” said Cindy Grimm, a robotics professor at Oregon State who has been instrumental in planning the series along with colleague William Smart and other faculty from both the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts.

The series is just one of many efforts between the colleges to foster common ground between the creative and technical disciplines.

“The landscape between art and technology can be challenging to navigate – but it provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore how humans come to terms with our ever-changing, technology-driven world,” said Grimm.

Lecture Details

Shona Kitchen

“Technological Landscapes”

October 10 from 6-7 p.m.

Owen Hall, Room 102

–Charles Robinson