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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Through-Ice Energy Harvester Deployment Mechanism

Generating electrical power from currents and waves may enable ocean sensing in energy-constrained environments like high latitudes where other renewable sources like solar may not be practical or viable. One area of interest is powering sensors fixed to sea ice, which is critical for understanding the warming arctic. To power such sensors, devices are being investigated that can harvest the energy from the relative motion between floating sea ice and water, such as small turbines or vortex-induced-vibration elements. A key design challenge for these devices is how the harvesting system accesses the ice/water interface underneath the sea ice and secures itself there, particularly on ice too hazardous to safely support access by personnel. The student team worked to develop conceptual solutions and a prototype design of an automated deployment and securement mechanism for a current energy harvester below the ice that can position and secure an energy harvesting system under floating sea ice from a starting position at the ice surface and facilitate electrical connectivity from the harvester to sensors at the ice surface. The system is equipped with enough energy to complete its task and self-deploy with no additional human intervention and is expected to survive through a full season of ice breakup and melting.

Faculty Adviser

Eli Patten, ME Capstone Director, Mechanical Engineering


Bailey Deck
Cole Nichols
Garrett Larson
Griffey Sarmiento
Yoeur-Man Teagan Mach