Resonate energy conversion: analysis of a lunar tide power plant using a variable area pipe

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Advisor: John Schauer


Extracting power from oceanic tides is currently a crucial topic due to the seemingly insatiable world energy demands. Development in renewable energy is required in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and minimize negative environmental impact. Ocean tides offer a highly predictable and less weather-dependent source of energy. Not only that, but certain locations are more affected by the gravitational lunar forcing, and therefore experience a high tidal range. One example is the Bay of Fundy, which because of its size and shape, can experience tidal ranges up to approximately 16 meters [1] due to operating close to its resonating frequency [2]. With the desire to design a power plant such that it will resonant similar to or better than the Bay of Fundy, a second order differential equation was derived modeling a basic tidal power plant. The second order differential equation follows the form of a canonical spring-mass-damper system, allowing for the natural frequency of the system to be easily calculated. The proposed physical system connects the ocean and a smaller body of water by a pipe or channel. The pipe or channel can be straight, or can vary in cross-sectional area in order to reduce friction in the pipe. Dimensional case studies were evaluated using a pipe with a varying cross-section. The equivalent of one coal power plant would require a turbine diameter of 229 feet, pipe length of 0.92 miles, and a lake size of 35 by 35 miles, roughly equivalent to the size of Rhode Island. To meet the energy demands of the entire United States, the system would require a turbine diameter of 5,347 feet, pipe length of 21.5 miles, and a lake size of 173 by 173 miles. This lake size is roughly on the order of magnitude of Lake Superior or South Carolina.


Tidal power Research, Ocean wave power Research, Ocean energy resources, Renewable energy sources, Energy; engineering; mechanical engineering; sustainability; renewable energy; tidal power; resonance; ocean power; tidal lagoon

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Copyright © 2013, author