UNH-led ‘blue economy’ project receives nearly $10m federal grant

Department of Energy to fund Atlantic Marine Energy Center for research on renewable ocean energy
Living Bridge

The sensors used in the Living Bridge project at the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine, are powered through a tidal turbine.

The new Atlantic Marine Energy Center led by the University of New Hampshire in partnership with several East Coast universities, has been awarded a $9.7 million federal grant to focus on research and development to address ongoing needs for sustainable renewable ocean energy.

The four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy means the AMEC will be one of four National Marine Renewable Energy Centers in the country.

“This is an exciting opportunity to expand on existing research and advance new technologies in a rapidly evolving field,” said Martin Wosnik, associate professor of mechanical engineering and AMEC’s director and principal investigator.

The focus will be on the scientific understanding and overall effectiveness of wave energy and tidal energy conversion, including wave-powered water pumps and tidal turbine farms. Crossover research will explore applications for ocean sensing, aquaculture, resilient coastal communities, supply chains, marine foundations and marine microgrids.

Besides UNH, AMEC is a consortium of Stony Brook University, Lehigh University and the Coastal Studies Institute, which is administered by East Carolina University. Partnering with each other, as well as with several other energy collaborators, researchers and engineers will work to further ocean energy technology through research, education and outreach, complementing work being done at the DOE’s national labs.

Expansion of existing projects will include UNH’s Living Bridge project located on the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth which provides tidal energy to the Memorial Bridge that connects New Hampshire and Maine. Researchers will seek accreditation for the project to become a scaled test site for tidal energy. The Coastal Studies Institute’s Jennette Pier project, located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, will be developed as an accredited, scaled test site specifically for wave energy.

The applications developed are seen as possibly powering the “blue economy” – an emerging concept that encourages better use of the ocean as a resource while reducing environmental harm.

Scientists and engineers from each institution, including both faculty and students, will work in the field, the laboratory or computationally to study and implement ocean energy projects.

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