TECH 797 - Undergraduate Ocean Research Projects

A two-semester senior design project course (ME 755-756 or TECH 797) must be completed by the end of the senior year by all undergraduates who are planning to receive their bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. The purpose of this requirement is to allow every ME student to gain experience in a substantial design or experimental research project.


Wave Energy at the Isles of Shoals

Wave energy has great potential to provide electricity to coastal communities at a competitive price.  The technology has been proven and is presently being developed for grid scale application. Significant amounts of energy are present in waves at locations around Hawaii and Oregon, but there is potential for development anywhere waves exist.  Our investigation has quantified the available energy in the Gulf of Maine.  Specific historical data has been correlated to areas east of the Isles of Shoals where wave activity was measured for this analysis. The Shoals Marine Laboratory is located on Appledore Island in the Isles of Shoals.  The Lab already makes use of 7.5 kW of wind power and recently expanded their solar energy capacity to 27 kW.  Recent funding has allowed for the expansion of renewable energy at the island based laboratory, and there is an interest in adding wave power to the energy profile.  This feasibility study has generated information about the energy available, site locations for implementation, permitting regulations, transportation installation and removal expenses, as well as identified devices and generated interest among developers who may be able to use Appledore Island and the Shoals Marine Laboratory for scaled testing on a live load.

Memorial Bridge Hydrokinetic Power Generation: GHT & VFG

The ultimate objective of the Memorial Bridge project is to deploy a hydrokinetic turbine beneath the Memorial Bridge in the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to harvest mechanical power from the water beneath the Memorial Bridge, and then convert it to electrical power to meet the energy needs of the bridge. The turbine will power aesthetic, navigation, traffic and aerial lighting as well as educational and informational monitoring and displays. Based on the size of the turbine and the predetermined power density curves of the river, the 2012-13 senior project team chose to design a variable flux generator (VFG) to generate the electricity needed.  The VFG is a highly efficient generator that has not been thoroughly and scientifically tested. Further work to meet the ultimate goal is still required but the team made considerable progress towards making the Memorial Bridge a sustainable site.

Evaluation and Characterization of the Fluid Dynamics Within a Circular Flume

This purpose of this project was to evaluate and characterize the fluid dynamics within a circular flume. The group studied the flow through the flume to show whether or not this tank is a suitable testing facility to study incipient motion and bed stress, which are components of the study of sediment transport.

UNH Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV)

ROV’s are used in many underwater applications across many fields and are useful because they do not have to safely transport a human down to extreme ocean depths (~6,000m) and pressures. Instead the ROV’s are controlled through a tether from a surface vessel where the human operators are in a safe environment. This decreases the cost and limitations of exploration and missions located in the deep ocean.   The 2012-13 team had to design the ROV to perform 4 missions focused on the rescue of a disabled submarine sunk to the bottom of a 4m deep swimming pool.  To simulate the initial stages of a rescue mission, the ROV had to assess the damage to the sub, deliver Emergency Life Support System (ELSS) pods, connect an air line to facilitate ventilation, and mates to the escape hatch.  The competition is judged based on the success and speed in completing underwater mission tasks, as well as a technical report, poster display and a presentation.


Tidal Energy Demonstration Channel

The goal of the Tidal Energy Demonstration Channel project was to convey how tidal energy can be harnessed and converted to useable electricity. The 2012-13 team built continuous flow demonstration tank with removable model turbines.


Offshore Wind Turbine Array

The goal of this project was to systematically investigate the power output of an offshore wind turbine array for variable turbine spacing. Realistic scale models of 5MW offshore wind turbines were designed, fabricated and characterized with respect to performance.  Wind turbine arrays of various configurations (e.g. 1xN, 1x9, 3x3) were then installed and tested in the UNH Flow Physics Facility.