UNH Living Bridge Tidal Energy Conversion System

Ian Gagnon

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

Friday, Sep. 9, 2016, 3:00pm
Chase 130

A tidal energy conversion system was designed to power an array of smart infrastructure and estuarine sensors on Portsmouth, NH’s Memorial Bridge. The purpose of this tidal energy conversion system is to demonstrate an emerging renewable energy technology, serve as a research tool, and increase public interest in S.T.E.M. as well as the United States’ critical energy and transportation infrastructure. The tidal energy conversion system consists of a crossflow hydrokinetic turbine, a floating turbine deployment platform, and two vertical guideposts that provide a mooring point between the turbine deployment platform and one of the bridge’s piers. A detailed resource analysis was performed to size the turbine rotor and determine the expected power production. Expected loads were calculated to ensure that the tidal energy conversion system would perform as expected under local gravitational, wind, wave, and tidal current loading. A finite element analysis was performed to ensure structural integrity of system components. As a part of a senior design project, a 1:13 Froude scaled model of the tidal energy conversion system and bridge pier was constructed and tested in a tow/wave tank to experimentally verify these loads. The system is expected to be deployed without the turbine in the fall of 2016. The turbine is expected to be added to the system in the summer of 2017.


Ian Gagnon graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering in 2015. During this time he became interested in renewable energy and spent time researching offshore wind turbine arrays using numeric modeling and experimentation. Ian was also involved in numerous other projects including work on a bi-axial tensile test machine, and the formation of LiquiNet dedicated to international water purification. Ian is currently pursuing a M.S. in mechanical engineering and is part of a team developing a tidal energy platform to be installed in the Piscataqua estuary for research purposes.