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A Rising Tide
UNH expertise helps companies pursue renewable energy from the ocean

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Debbie Dutton
Steven C. Hench
UNDER TOW: A small version of Neptune Wave Power's wave-energy-conversion buoy on its way to the Isles of Shoals.

When it comes to putting big, complex devices into the ocean and making them work, UNH researchers are old salts, with decades of experience in aquaculture, ocean mapping, and fisheries and estuarine research. Now, as energy companies look to the sea as a potential source for renewable energy, UNH's Center for Ocean Renewable Energy is bringing its expertise to this growing industry, helping partners move their innovations from bench to beach.

Ocean renewable energy—similar to its terrestrial cousins, wind and solar power—seeks to harness the natural energy of waves, tides, currents and wind to generate electricity. But doing so in the harsh and unpredictable ocean is no small feat. "You put stuff in the water and it's a whole different kettle of fish, no pun intended," says center director Ken Baldwin '77G, professor of ocean engineering.

This past summer, Massachusetts-based wind turbine company FloDesign turned to the center to test its Mixer Ejector Hydrokinetic Turbine at UNH's tidal energy test site beneath the General Sullivan bridge at the mouth of Great Bay. UNH received $210,000 of the company's $1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for the two-year project, which involved designing and deploying a test platform, a 35-foot pontoon barge from which the turbine will be raised and lowered.

Working with assistant professor of mechanical engineering Martin Wosnik, graduate student Matt Rowell '12G designed the test platform for FloDesign's turbine. Three senior projects from the undergraduate Ocean Projects course contributed to the effort.

Neptune Wave Power of Dallas worked with Baldwin and the center to conduct the first ocean trials of its new wave-energy-conversion buoy. Research assistant professor Jud DeCew '99, '02G, '11G modeled and designed the buoys and moorings that kept the 3-meter buoy in place near the Isles of Shoals. "We know what it takes to put stuff in the water, make sure it stays there and keep it safe," says Baldwin. "The industry is realizing we can help them move forward as they pursue energy from our waters."

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