U.S. Department of Energy Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC)
Team Name: Green Lobstah
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, New York
- Poster: Powering Aquaculture with Offshore Vertical-Axis Wind and Current Turbines
- Report: Powering Aquaculture with Offshore Vertical-Axis Wind and Current Turbines
- Presentation: Dual Turbine Platform
- Build and Test Report: Powering Aquaculture with Offshore Vertical-Axis Wind and Current Turbines
- Recording of virtual team presentation
Why this competition?
Members of the Green Lobstah team share a passion for renewable energy. They view the U.S. Department of Energy Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC) as a chance to contribute to a sustainable future and the blue economy, reinventing the way the world thinks about energy while building professional experience. Team members also mention direct exposure to the renewable energy industry as a benefit of participating in MECC. The opportunity to bridge fields of study through work on multifunctional teams appeals to a number of the students.
Project description, including application in the blue economy
The Green Lobstah team will design and test an offshore wind platform prototype for a three-bladed vertical axis turbine, with a focus on platform stability. Flow-induced vibration from the platform’s surrounding conditions will be studied by simulating a range of wind speeds and currents. Though the wind turbine will be considered in the team’s stability analysis, the focus of the project will be on a multifunctional platform design. Consistent communication with industry experts, customers, and stakeholders will help identify design priorities and potential application areas in the blue economy beyond offshore wind. The team plans to market the design for use in the aquaculture industry, based on feedback and market insight from regulators, potential customers, and other experts in the field. Throughout the process, the team’s emphasis will be on developing a product and plan designed to provide opportunities for growth in the blue economy.
Designing an original offshore vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), as well as manufacturing a wind tunnel to perform experiments with the VAWT, will require exceptional cooperation, creativity, and effort from the Green Lobstah team. Existing research on offshore platforms and wind tunnels will be reviewed, and this base of knowledge will be heavily considered in the team’s decisions about its own creations. After three-dimensional designs of the wind tunnel and offshore VAWT are made, computational experiments will be executed. Once the designs are finalized and the wind tunnel is fully assembled, experimental analysis of the stability of the offshore VAWT will be performed. In parallel with the research and development, the Green Lobstah business team will conduct market research and interviews with industry experts.
The Green Lobstah team’s biggest strength is its interdisciplinary composition of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, and business management and marketing students from two different universities, UMass Dartmouth and St. Bonaventure University. The team’s diverse range of skills, combined with the complementary facilitation styles of the team’s co-leaders and members’ passion for renewable energy, will push the team toward successful completion of objectives.
The biggest challenge the team anticipates is communication among members, which will be conducted almost exclusively online due to pandemic safety concerns. The team also currently lacks knowledge of the legal framework related to launching a new technology in the marketplace.
The Green Lobstah team’s overall goal is to design and test an offshore wind platform prototype for a three-bladed vertical axis turbine. The team members hope to use lessons learned during this MECC project to advance their professional growth and future research endeavors.
Although the team members have completed most of their course work and numerous projects, the scope of the MECC project will give students direct industry exposure through product design. Mechanical and electrical engineers will gain experience identifying, formulating, and solving complex engineering problems to produce solutions that meet specific needs with consideration of public health, safety, welfare, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors. The business team will learn about the complexity of creating a marketing and business plan, as well as the social, economic, and environmental effects of business decisions. Team members will also learn leadership skills and the benefits of working in a collaborative and inclusive environment to establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
This portal is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) under Contract Number DE- AC36-08GO28308 with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Contract Number DE-AC05-76RL01830 with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Contract Number DE-NA0003525 with Sandia National Laboratories, as part of the MHK Data Communities project. The United States Government retains, and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the United States Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for United States Government purposes.