Faculty & Research

Brian Polagye

Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Brian Polagye

  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
  • B.S., Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University

Dr. Polagye completed his Ph.D. at the UW and joined the mechanical engineering faculty as a research assistant professor. His dissertation concentrated on the environmental effects of in-stream tidal energy extraction. His master’s thesis, addressed the economics of converting forest thinnings from wildfire remediation into higher-value bio-fuels. Prior to pursuing his graduate studies, he worked with a number of international clients as a management consultant with Dean & Co.

Dr. Polagye’s research focuses on responsibly harnessing the kinetic energy in moving water. In particular, he is developing a better understanding of the practically recoverable resource from tidal streams through numerical modeling and field measurements. In-stream energy extraction is numerically modeled over a variety of scales, from an entire estuary down to a single device. At the estuarine scale, kinetic power extraction leads to a number of far-field effects, including changes to the tidal range, volume flow rate, and power dissipation. Each of these effects has important environmental, social, and economic consequences for in-stream developments. At the device scale, a better understanding of wake mixing is needed to establish rules for device spacing. This is critical because, unlike wind energy, the tidal resource is highly localized and compact arrays are required to efficiently utilize the available resource. The second research thrust uses field measurements to better characterize tidal energy sites and device performance. This is initially centered on velocity measurements using both shipboard and bottom-mounted ADCPs (acoustic Doppler current profilers) in Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound. A key goal is to develop "device-neutral" site characterization methodologies to describe aspects of the in-stream resource (intensity, direction, turbulence, etc.). He is also involved in the development of cost-effective instrumentation packages to characterize the physical and biological environment at potential in-stream energy sites.

See Brian Polagye's faculty Web page.