Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to assess fish mortality from interactions with tidal turbine blades

Principal Investigator:

Mr. Nick Fyffe, Blumara Consulting

Start Date: February 2017

End Date: December 2017

The research project will attempt to simulate, using finite element analysis, the impact of a tidal turbine blade on fish and assess whether mortality of marine life can be expected in such an event.
The project objectives are to:
  • Assess whether finite element methods can be used to simulate turbine blade impacts with fish and other marine life,
  • Provide an indication of whether turbine blade impacts are likely to result in fish mortality,
  • Assess whether strain gauges can be used as a way to monitor fish collisions with a turbine.
To achieve these objectives, the project will firstly create an idealized finite element model of a fish and tidal turbine blade, then using commercially available finite element analysis software, several simulations will be ran of the fish model impacting the turbine blade at different flow speeds and turbine operational conditions. In conjunction with the computer analysis, experiments will be performed using strain gauges and live fish in a observable environment such as a test tank or fish farm to obtain data on fish collisions with solid objects that can be used to validate the results of the finite element analysis. The analysis results will then be assessed to determine whether there is any indication on whether the forces, stresses and displacements encountered would normally result in mortality of a fish if it collided with the turbine blade.
The outcomes of this research will be the development of a methodology to analyze the effects of tidal turbine blade impacts with fish and perhaps other marine life, with results of analysis providing a prediction of the level of fish mortality that can be expected with a tidal turbine in operation. An additional outcome is advancing the use of strain gauges as a possible way to
monitor fish and tidal turbine interactions.