US students build hydrokinetic flume for national test center

Mines students at the NWTC in front of the water flume they constructed as part of their capstone project with NREL (Photo: Lee Jay Fingersh/NREL)

Students from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) have delivered a flume for testing and characterization of hydrokinetic power devices for the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC).

The flume was planned, designed, and constructed as part of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)-sponsored project whose aim was to help stimulate innovative marine and hydrokinetic and hydropower designs and expose Colorado universities to water power.

During this school year, NREL will work with a different CSM team to take the project a step further.

The new team will construct a small-scale, modular, underwater current turbine testing kit for use inside the water flume, according to NREL.

In addition to educational outreach, NREL said the flume will help the center to lead bench-scale validation for systems such as advanced control algorithms.

Elise DeGeorge, Senior Project Leader in the Wind and Water Power Programs, said: “The design and construction of the flume provided invaluable hands-on learning for the Mines students. The modular design of the flume also provides a fundamental sandbox for NREL engineers to develop a more formal test environment for a collegiate hydropower competition to stimulate interest in water power as a career path, as future funding may allow.”

The project was one of several open to CSM students as part of the Capstone Design@Mines program, set up to give engineering students real-world project experience with industry sponsors.

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