The Michigan Engineer News Center

UM researchers awarded $3.9M for transformational energy technology

The University of Michigan announced today that it was awarded $3.9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding will be used to harvest hydrokinetic energy using reconfigurable high-efficiency marine micro-turbines.| Short Read
EnlargeGraphic of potential marine hydrokinetic energy harvesting system
IMAGE:  Graphic of potential marine hydrokinetic energy harvesting system

“This is a really exciting opportunity as we bring our department’s core competence in hydrodynamics and control to the hydrokinetic energy area,” said Project Lead Investigator and Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department Chair Jing Sun.

The proposed RAFT concept, made up of multiple micro-turbines, has a modularized architecture with reconfigurable units, making it adaptable to different applications and marine environments. The innovative new turbine designs, along with distributed load control and regulator concepts, significantly reduce the levelized cost of energy. In – situ real-time optimization-based control and distributed continuous system health monitoring optimize RAFT’s features to achieve performance, resiliency, reliability, and cost targets. Multidisciplinary engineering efforts with extensive modeling, iterative optimization, control co-design, and experimental validations will mitigate identified technical risks.

The University of Michigan received this competitive award from ARPA-E’s Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS) program, to develop new designs for economically competitive Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) for tidal and riverine currents.

Working with partners and leveraging ARPA-E’s technology-to-market apparatus, the project can contribute to effective solutions for marine renewable energy across a wide spectrum of deployments.

Graphic of potential marine hydrokinetic energy harvesting system
Portrait of Nicole Panyard


Nicole Frawley-Panyard
Marketing Communications Specialist

Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering

(734) 936-0567

219 NAME

  • Jing Sun

    Jing Sun

    Michael G. Parsons Collegiate Professor; Department Chair Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read