Tidal Turbine Performance Analysis

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Project Type: 

Students Involved:

Jacob Finch UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Kevin Pflanz UNH - Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Christopher Thompsen UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisors:

Kenneth Baldwin UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
M. Robinson Swift UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Martin Wosnik UNH - Department of Mechanical Engineering
Last year, UNH students designed and largely assembled an electrical generation and deployment system for a helical vertical-axis tidal turbine. For 2008-09, the Performance Analysis team was charged with designing and building a data acquisition system to measure and record important turbine performance parameters during its first deployment in the Piscataqua River. Electrical power output and rotational velocity of the turbine were measured in three separate field tests, culminating in a moored test under the General Sullivan Bridge in Newington, N.H., where strong tidal currents make this location ideal for testing tidal power technologies. In currents between three and six knots the turbine produced 100 to 150W of electrical power at rotational velocities of 60 to 90 RPM. This power level falls well short of what the turbine is capable of, most likely because last year’s electrical generation system was designed only to be adequate for powering a 12-V battery charging circuit. Gear ratio changes and the construction of a more versatile electronic load, both ongoing efforts, are expected to increase the power output of the turbine by a factor of 10 or more.


Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant


  • Tidal turbine performance analysis (2009). Jacob Finch, Kevin Pflanz and Christopher Thompsen. Advisors: Kenneth Baldwin, M. Robinson Swift and Martin Wosnik.