UNH Ocean Seminar

Marine Energy Activities at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Aidan Bharath
Research and Testing Engineer

National Renewable Energy Lab

Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, 3:10pm
Chase 105

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL)s water and hydro power research groups aims to promote, provide assistance to and help establish technologies for generating, storing and using offshore energy at scale to achieve the national clean energy goals. NREL leverages the expertise and capabilities across it’s diverse team and collaborators to help find and deliver novel solutions to market which could transform the energy sector.  This seminar aims to provide an introduction to the main research focus within the NREL water and hydro power teams with a more detailed description of the current project currently underway in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire.

NREL researchers work in a broad range of areas within the Blue Economy such as modeling and analysis, innovation and design, laboratory validation, open-water demonstrations, pilot project development support and workforce and infrastructure development. Within these areas, NREL in collaboration with several other National Labs provides tools to bring some of the most advanced resource models to the general public along with applications to analyze the economic feasibility of potential projects. To push forward the design of novel marine energy converter designs, NREL continually develops and maintains open-source modeling software which are widely used in the design and continued development of these technologies. NREL operates on site facilities to test several aspects of potential marine energy converter designs include wave tanks, motion platforms, dynamometers and equipment for long term fatigue and failure analysis. Alongside the testing capabilities, NREL also provides extensive support for data acquisition and SCADA system development which is the basis of the work currently underway on the Living Bridge cross-flow turbine.

Following successful upgrades of the Modular Ocean Data AcQuisition system (MODAQ) in 2021 resulting in new inflow, turbine loads and generated power measurements, the 2022 measurement campaign aimed to add direct blade strain and turbine orientation measurements to the dataset. As a result a novel data acquisition mast assembly was developed as a bolt on addition to the existing turbine system and extensive modifications were made to a solid aluminum turbine blade and strut to add sensors and cabling without significantly disrupting performance of the turbine. The teams from UNH and NREL have been installing and beginning the commissioning process over the past several week and are aiming for a start to the measurement campaign within the upcoming weeks.

This talk is aimed to give an introduction to the activities of the National Marine Energy Laboratory and will also provide information on ways for undergraduate and graduate students to become involved in the research activities at NREL and other national labs.


Aidan Bharath is a research and testing engineer at the National Renewable Energy Lab who’s work primarily focuses on bespoke data acquisition system design for offshore ocean renewable energy technologies. His collaboration with the University of New Hampshire has developed a novel system which is capable of capturing blade strain measurements from an operational turbine in real-time and correlated to several other measurements being captured on the Living Bridge platform. Aidan’s background includes several aspects of the ocean renewable energy industry including modeling regional scale tidal resources, supporting on water commercial deployments, extensive tank testing campaigns of Wave energy converter arrays and building high-fidelity CFD modelling techniques to wave energy and tidal energy converters.