Cyber-Physical System for Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Conversion

­Cyber-Physical system for Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Conversion   Overview Hydrokinetic tidal energy, which uses the energy of flowing water to turn turbines, is an important form of renewable energy. However, the turbines used must be cus…

­Cyber-Physical system for Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Conversion

Hydrokinetic tidal energy, which uses the energy of flowing water to turn turbines, is an important form of renewable energy. However, the turbines used must be custom-designed to work with the water conditions of their particular location. Their bespoke design is difficult to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Breuer and his team have developed a way to build a system that measures and adjusts to the changing water flow conditions to maintain optimum efficiency. 
Market Opportunity
In the United States, the areas with the greatest potential for tidal energy are close to coastal population centers, which is one reason why this renewable energy source has yet to be significantly harnessed. Another is that the fixed-design turbines that constitute the current state of the art carry a number of serious drawbacks. For example, they need to be designed and optimized for a single site, which requires a careful, time-consuming and expensive site survey.

Because current turbines are custom-made for a particular location, they cannot be adjusted or re-optimized if there is any change in the water conditions at that site. Such a change may happen because of climate change, or could even be the result of installing a large hydrokinetic system in which the many turbines alter the flow of the water. Furthermore, static turbines disrupt the flow of nutrients in an ecosystem and hinder the movements of marine life, so they can be a major problem for the kind of diverse marine ecosystems, such as marshlands and coral reefs, that often occur near the kinds of sites that would be good for harvesting tidal power. As a result, there is a major need for tidal energy turbines that do not come with these negatives.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages:
Breuer’s cyber-physical system creates tidal energy turbines that can be adjusted so that they maintain maximum efficiency at converting water flow into usable energy even under changing conditions. Sensors embedded within the system monitor the environment and automatically adjust the turbine’s actuators. This innovation negates the need to custom design a turbine for a particular location and allows for real-time adjustments to changing conditions. 

A turbine design like Breuer’s can adapt to its neighboring turbines, which unavoidably alter the flow of water in the area in the service of gathering energy from the tides. Because the cyber-physical system can adjust its operating behavior as the farm grows, it would provide substantial economic advantages over existing technology that would multiply with time.

Collaboration Opportunity:
We are seeking a licensing opportunity for this innovative technology. Potential customers include energy companies and government agencies focused on renewable energy or marine life conservation.

Principal Investigator
Kenneth S. Breuer, PhD
Professor of Engineering
brown university
Brown tech ID #2205


Contact Information:

TTO Home Page:

Name: Brian Demers

Title: Director of Business Development

Department: BTI


Phone: 401-863-1000