Flume-scale testing of an adaptive pitch marine hydrokinetic turbine

Ramona B. Barber, Craig S. Hill, Pavel F. Babuska, Richard Wiebe, Alberto Aliseda, Michael R. Motley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Modern marine hydrokinetic 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, numerical studies have demonstrated the possibility of tailoring the anisotropic properties of FRP composites to create an adaptive pitch mechanism that can improve system performance, especially in off-design or varying flow conditions. Potential benefits of an adaptive pitch system include increased lifetime energy capture, reduced hydro-elastic instabilities, reduced risk of mechanical failure, and improved efficiency, load shedding, fatigue life, and structural integrity. In this work, static and dynamic testing results for a flume-scale marine hydrokinetic turbine system are presented. Two sets of adaptive composite blades are compared to neutral pitch composite and rigid aluminum designs. Static testing was used to quantify the mechanical load-deformation response of each blade type. Additionally, instantaneous blade and full system loading was measured during dynamic flume testing, allowing a multilevel analysis of adaptive blade performance. Experimental results show notable shifts in the power and thrust coefficients and significant load adjustments induced through passive pitch adaptation, suggesting that adaptive pitch composite blades could be a valuable addition to marine hydrokinetic turbine technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-473
Number of pages9
JournalComposite Structures
StatePublished - May 15 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Adaptive composites
  • Bend-twist coupling
  • Marine renewable energy
  • Tidal turbines


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