Structural Health Monitoring and Design Verification of Tidal Turbine Support Structure

Bridges crossing tidally driven estuaries provide unique opportunities for installing the tidal energy conversion. The successful operation of these devices depend on the integrity of the support structure and monitoring the device and its support structure with respect to performance indices under complex environmental loading. There is a need for structural monitoring of their structural supports to create demand load development and design provisions for effective and safe deployment of renewable energy devices. The Living Bridge Project at the Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth, NH and Kittery ME, includes structural health monitoring of the bridge structure with the sensor network powered by tidal energy. This project plans on deploying a tidal turbine from a floating platform that is attached via vertical guide posts to the Portsmouth-side bridge pier. The structural impact of the tidal turbine operation can adversely affect the structural integrity of the bridge pier and the efficiency of the tidal turbine depends in part on the rigidity of the support structure. Therefore, the calculation of the expected environmental demands are critical to project success. This study includes a monitoring plan for the environmental demands, such as tidal current speed, wind speed, vessel generated wave height and period, and tidal turbine support structure response, such as strain and acceleration. The data fusion of demand and response will create a platform for pro-active maintenance procedures, design and model verification, and load development guidelines for future renewable energy installations on estuarine bridge structures.

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