UMass Dartmouth College of Engineering students recently received recognition for their senior capstone project titled "Powering the blue economy through offshore vertical-axis wind and current turbines; from fundamental to two-phase flow experimental testing." The team won the "Best Paper Award" during the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Northeast Section Conference, which took place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in October. The ASEE Northeast Section Conference is a regional venue committed to fostering the exchange of ideas and promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning in engineering communities.
For their senior capstone project, the team designed a stable, offshore floating platform to house a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) as well as an Underwater Current Turbine (UCT), which was later called the Dual-Turbine Platform (DTP). The team also designed their own testing facility that includes a one-of-a-kind combined wind and water tunnel to test the small-scale model of the final designed platform. In order to prove that the DTP would remain stable in its realistic surroundings, both wind and current conditions were needed to be tested. Using their in-house designed and manufactured combined wind and water tunnel, the team successfully tested the platform’s stability in a variety of wind and current conditions.
Along with their senior capstone, the team entered this project into the Department of Energy’s Marine Energy Collegiate Competition (MECC). Through this competition, they proposed a business plan on how their technology could benefit the Blue Economy. Their proposal was that these new, revolutionary VAWT and UCT supported on their designed offshore floating platform could be used to power aquaculture farms with no harmful effects on marine wildlife and plants. The DTP design aims to fulfill the needs of offshore aquaculture farms while providing sustainable and eco-friendly energy, relieving the operation of diesel generators.
Currently, the only option to provide power is the diesel generator that causes expensive fuel, labor, and logistical cost. The DTP would benefit new and preexisting aquaculture farms economically, ethically, and logistically. The DTP will provide customers with self-generated energy; providing greater opportunity for autonomously run farms. This power solution can also lead to lower maintenance costs and more reliable energy - independent of the fluctuating costs related to diesel use.
This project was the culmination of 10 students working around the clock on such a revolutionary project. Sarah Dulac and Ross Jacques are mechanical engineering graduate students working in Dr. Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh’s Fluid-Structure Interactions (FSI) Laboratory at UMass Dartmouth. Along with Sarah and Jacques were Mechanical Engineers Joseph Silveira, Kevin Raggiani, Andrea Elloian, Electrical Engineers Dylan Sousa, and Tyler Viera, and two business students from St. Bonaventure University, Alec Peinkofer, and Darion Gregory.
"Through their teamwork and collaboration, this project has won the team ‘Best Business Pitch’ and ‘Best Technical Build’ at the MECC as well as the best project paper awarded by the American Society of Engineering Education, Northeast Division (ASEE-NE). Through their hard work and dedication, this project lives on to be presented at many regional and national conferences and will continue to get recognition wherever the team may go," says Dr. Banafsheh Seyed-Aghazadeh, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
"My team of students have taken their excellent performance in their capstone project one step beyond their school project and have been presenting their work at many regional and national conferences. Their dedication to excellence was well recognized through their win of the best paper award among other attendees from different top-ranking academic institutions in the Northeast region of the US. This work and their recognition through the best paper award is another example of Umass Dartmouth’s growing footprint in research and student mentorship activities in powering the blue economy in the southeast coast of Massachusetts."