Hydropower/STEM/Research/Capstone Projects

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Hydropower Research: Capstone Projects

The following table provides links to student hydropower research work. In addition to the research presented below, the hydro STEM portal also hosts research conducted through the Hydropower Foundation's Research Awards Program , which was designed to stimulate new student research and academic interest in research and careers in conventional or pumped storage hydropower, and university research . Click in the header cells below to sort the table columns.

Title Author University Capstone Objective Link to File
Analysis of Reservoir‐Based Hydroelectric versus Run‐of‐River Hydroelectric Energy Production Cassie Modal, Morgan Solomon, Britton Tew, Cameron Gerhman, and Caleb Lehner Montana State University Using a three-pronged approach consisting of economic, ecological, and social standards, this paper will attempt to prove that hydropower is the most viable renewable energy source compared to other renewable sources such as wind and solar. Link
Low-Head Micro-Hydroelectric Demonstration Project at a Former Grist Mill Site Design and build a small “run-of-the-stream” turbine for a former mill brook to: 1) Generate individual household power with a clean, sustainable, and locally available resource as a demonstration project for the community, and 2) Research and document power usage and storage requirements. Link
Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project Model Development and Scenario Chris Berger, Scott A. Wells, Vanessa Wells Portland State University To perform the following tasks: 1) Develop a hydrodynamic and water quality model of the reservoir formed by the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric project, and 2) Develop and run modeling scenarios. Link
Alternative Energy Solutions: Hydroelectric and Tidal Energy Neslihan Yildirim American University To encourage the use of renewable energy resources by providing detailed information on the scientific, economic, and political backgrounds of two types of renewable energy resources: hydroelectric and tidal energy. Link
Hydropower Planning: Multi-Horizon Modeling and Its Applications Hubert Abgottspon ETH Zurich To propose a novel modeling framework, the multi-horizon modeling approach, that allows a detailed and transparent modeling of many problems in hydropower planning by simultaneously being computationally very efficient. The models are applied in the thesis to pumped storage hydropower plants in a liberalized market environment to give decision support for the self-scheduling of them. Link
Dynamic Modeling and Environmental Analysis of Hydrokinetic Energy Extraction Veronica Miller University of Pittsburgh Governing principles of hydrokinetic energy extraction are presented, along with a two-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the system. Power extraction methods are compared, and verification and validation of the CFD model through mesh sensitivity and experimental data are presented. Link
Local and Non-local Geomorphic Effects of Hydrokinetic Turbines: Bridging Renewable Energy and River Morphodynamics Mirko Musa University of Minnesota Rivers are currently an overlooked source of local and continuous kinetic energy that can be exploited using the available in-stream converters technology. The uncertainties regarding the interaction between these devices and the surrounding environment complicate the regulatory permitting processes, slowing down the expansion of MHK industry. A crucial issue that needs further attention is the interaction between these devices and the physical fluvial environment such as the bathymetry, sediment transport, and the associated morphodynamic processes. Analytical and experimental research conducted at Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) addressed this topic, unveiling the local and non-local (far from the device location) effects of hydrokinetic turbines on channel bathymetry and morphology. Link
Power Generation of Two Model Marine Hydrokinetic Turbines in a Tandem Array Configuration Giulio Soliani Bucknell University This laboratory study centered on the interaction of two model marine hydrokinetic turbines arranged in a stream-wise tandem configuration. The goal was to determine the effect of an upstream turbine on the performance of the downstream turbine. Specifically, the study focused on the changes in power generation that occurred as the stream-wise spacing between devices was varied. Link
Comparison of Storage Mediums in Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Generation Brandon Poole, Ben Beauchamp, Tyler Bishop, Garrett Bodie Auburn University This recorded session offers presentations from graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2021 Renewable Energy in Electrical Power Systems class at Auburn University. The pumped storage presentation is the first one. The presentation provides an overview of generating, pumping, storage calculation, storage alternatives and models, steady state results, step response results, turbine flow, and conclusions. Link to video
A System Dynamics Approach to Sediment Management at Small Hydropower Facilities Sarah Ann Dowda University of Tennessee The sedimentation of reservoirs alters reservoir function and often leads to a reduction in power production at hydropower facilities. For low head structures with small reservoirs the effects of sedimentation can manifest quickly, reducing the efficiency and lifetime of projects. In order to optimize small hydropower power production this study offers a new approach to predict sedimentation at small dams. This masters thesis will be available for download on May 15, 2023. Link
Adaptive Pitch Composite Blades for Axial-Flow Marine Hydrokinetic Turbines Ramona Brockman Barber University of Washington Marine hydrokinetic (MHK) turbines are quickly becoming a viable and valuable method of generating renewable energy from ocean, tidal, and river currents. Modern MHK turbine blades are typically constructed from fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, which provide superior strength- and stiffness-to-weight ratios and improved fatigue and corrosion resistance compared to traditional metallic alloys. Furthermore, it is possible to hydroelastically tailor the design of an FRP composite blade by manipulating the anisotropic nature of the material, creating a load-dependent adaptive pitch mechanism. With this strategy, the blade geometry is able to passively adjust to the instantaneous inflow, and system performance can be modified over the expected range of operating conditions. Adaptive blade designs have demonstrated the potential to increase performance, reduce hydrodynamic instabilities, and improve structural integrity in aerospace and other marine applications; however, previous research specific to adaptive MHK turbine blades has been preliminary. Further work is needed to better understand and model the behavior of these systems. To that end, the research presented here combines numerical and experimental modeling to develop greater insight into the potential benefits to be gained by the use of adaptive pitch MHK turbine blades. Link
Low-Head Hydropower as a Reserve Power Source for Wind Power Trevor L. Auth University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Wind power generation faces intermittency challenges, typically requiring reserve power generation sources burning fossil fuels to maintain reliability of the electricity grid in the event of a decrease in wind. This study proposes an alternative hypothesis: that hydropower turbines installed at low-head dams can provide similar reserve power generation to support wind, thereby avoiding the externalities associated with fossil-fuel plants and conventional hydropower. Link

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