This year, the Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation received a record number of applications. The Grant Advisory members and Foundation Board members had the challenging task of choosing just one recipient of the grant, amongst a pool of very strong candidates and diverse projects. Applications were received from many different post-secondary institutions across Canada, from both Master’s and Doctorate candidates. After a challenging adjudication process, we are pleased to introduce Matthieu Boudreau as the 2016 Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation Grant recipient!
Matthieu is a mechanical engineering PhD candidate at the Université Laval, where he also received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Matthieu, under the supervision of Dr. Guy Dumas, is researching a clean and renewable technology for energy extraction from river or tidal currents. Matthieu is a highly awarded student, with many published peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations.
In addition to his academic achievements, Matthieu is very involved with extra-curricular activities including volunteering as a soccer coach, working as ski instructor and lecturing for an introductory fluid mechanics course at the Université Laval. Matthieu’s personal values also align well with his dedication and research as he is a passionate outdoorsman, enjoying hiking, mountain biking and skiing, when he is not busy with his research.
Below, in his own words, is an overview of Matthieu’s work on the development of the fully-passive flapping-foil turbine concepts.
Energy extraction from river or tidal currents with hydrokinetic turbines, which are similar to wind turbines but used underwater, is an innovative source of renewable and clean energy that is rapidly drawing more and more attention nowadays. A big part of the reason is that its enormous worldwide energy potential is almost unexploited at the moment. Yet hydrokinetic turbines possess several important advantages compared to wind turbines. First, the high density of water results in a higher energy density compared to air, hence resulting in smaller apparatus for the same output power. Moreover, both the direction and the strength of river and tidal currents can be accurately predicted in advance, unlike wind, and they are also usually more constant over time which facilitates the management of their electricity production.
Several types of hydrokinetic turbines have been proposed including the “oscillating-foil turbine”, whose foil undergoes both pitching (rotational) and heaving (translational) motions. This turbine concept can be very efficient at harvesting the energy from a water flow when we impose the motions of the blade with some mechanisms. However, the complexity of these mechanisms can result in significant energy losses due to the friction of the moving components and to a considerable increase of the time and costs needed to produce a turbine. Furthermore, mechanical complexity is always associated to a higher risk of failure of the device.
My project consists of fundamentally changing how we can obtain the desired foil motions [see animation above] without imposing them, which allows us to get rid of the mechanical apparatus normally used to link both motions. The pitching and the heaving motions are instead independently attached to two distinct elastic supports, namely springs and dampers. We have proved the feasibility and the potential of this idea by performing experimental measurements during the last year in a water channel with collaborators at the University of Victoria using a prototype that we have designed and built. We are also carrying out elaborate numerical simulations on massively parallel supercomputers to obtain more detailed information about the flow field that we can use to optimize the concept. This technology could transform the hydrokinetic turbine sector and make Canada a leader in this promising field.
The Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation is extremely proud to have Matthieu be the third recipient of the grant and contribute to the support of his project in sustainable clean energy research!