Multiresolution Large-Eddy Simulation of an Array of Hydrokinetic Turbines in a Field-Scale River: The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project in New York City

Saurabh Chawdhary, Dionysios Angelidis, Jonathan Colby, Dean Corren, Lian Shen, Fotis Sotiropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Marine hydrokinetic (MHK) power generation systems enable harvesting energy from waterways without the need for water impoundment. A major research challenge for numerical simulations of field-scale MHK farms stems from the large disparity in scales between the size of waterway and the energy harvesting device. We propose a large-eddy simulation (LES) framework to perform high-fidelity, multiresolution simulations of MHK arrays in a real-life marine environment using a novel unstructured Cartesian flow solver coupled with a sharp-interface immersed boundary method. The potential of the method as a powerful engineering design tool is demonstrated by applying it to simulate a 30 turbine MHK array under development in the East River in New York City. A virtual model of the MHK power plant is reconstructed from high-resolution bathymetry measurements in the East River and the 30 turbines placed in 10 TriFrame arrangements as designed by Verdant Power. A locally refined, near the individual turbines, background unstructured Cartesian grid enables LES across a range of geometric scales of relevance spanning approximately 5 orders of magnitude. The simulated flow field is compared with a baseline LES of the flow in the East River without turbines. While velocity deficits and increased levels of turbulence kinetic energy are observed in the vicinity of the turbine wakes, away from the turbines as well as on the water surface only a small increase in mean momentum is found. Therefore, our results point to the conclusion that MHK energy harvesting from large rivers is possible without a significant disruption of the river flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10,188-10,204
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant IIP-1318201. The bathymetry survey for the simulated section was provided by Verdant Power Inc. through a contractor Ocean Survey Inc. Computational resources were provided by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota. Data associated with this paper can be found in published data set at zenodo.1442385.


  • LES
  • New York
  • energy
  • hydrokinetic turbine
  • simulation
  • tidal flow

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