SBIR Phase I: PAX Rotor Development for Flexible Power Take-Off

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Pax Scientific, Inc.
999 Andersen Dr Ste 100 Array
San Rafael, CA 94901
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project lies in the development of a flexible micro-hydro energy generation system that can provide clean, reliable and affordable energy for individuals and small communities/cooperatives in remote and developing regions. It promises to have clear performance advantages over competing solutions at Watt and Kilowatt scale while providing the lowest cost of total ownership. This is relevant to the global marine hydrokinetic (MHK) market which applies to energy generation from the world's rivers, tides, ocean currents and even manmade constructions such as irrigation canals and effluent pipes. MHK energy is a socially and environmentally friendly alternative to hydroelectric power as no dam is required to extract energy. This market is potentially lucrative but is still very nascent due to high technology costs, concerns over turbine survivability, fish friendliness, and difficulty in permitting these deployments, especially in the US and Western Europe. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will transform a biomimicry-based design into a stable MHK rotor that can support flexible power take-off configurations. The baseline design was created by reverse-engineering the ultra-efficient, low-turbulence flow geometry of mammalian cardiovascular systems. When applied to a MHK rotor, the resulting geometry allows for the conversion of energy from a longer stretch of flowing water, which can lead to similar power/energy generation to that of traditional MHK rotors but with half the required depth. During the project, the shape will be varied to result in a predictable, stable design with maximum efficiency of output under variable flow conditions. The proposed R&D plan is a primary research effort in identifying the variables that lead to predictable, high performance, MHK rotor design utilizing such methodologies as computational fluid dynamics (CFD), prototyping and water tank testing. In addition, greater understanding of this design will also expand the body of knowledge in the rapidly emerging field of biomimicry.