Today, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions announced 2019 selections in the latest round of the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF)—a program that transitions research and development (R&D) funding to applied energy programs to advance promising technologies with the potential for impact across industry. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office has funded four projects in 2019, and several of DOE’s National Laboratories to include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that are leading the efforts listed below:

  • Autonomous acoustic receiver systems for 3D tracking and monitoring real-time fish survival: PNNL’s project focuses on two technologies that will augment the lab’s Juvenile Salmon Acoustic Telemetry System (JSATS) which uses the smallest acoustic transmitters in the world with receiving systems to remotely track fish. The laboratory will develop a fully functional prototype of its Real-time Autonomous Acoustic Detection System which will estimate fish movement in near real-time to optimize hydropower operations. Additionally, PNNL will advance its Machine Learning Autonomous Tracking System, which allows for 3D acoustic-tagged fish tracking. PNNL will collaborate with commercial autonomous acoustic receiver vendor Advanced Telemetry Systems Inc. (ATS) throughout prototype development.
  • A miniaturized long-life low-frequency acoustic transmitter for fish tracking in marine environments: Partnering with ATS, PNNL will pilot a small, long duration acoustic transmitter that can be used to track the three-dimensional location of marine animals. The new prototype is similar to the transmitter currently used in the JSATS model for hydropower, but will be adjusted for lower frequencies in marine environments. Advancing technologies to better track and understand the movements and behaviors of marine mammals, fish, and other protected species is crucial to the development of the marine energy industry.
  • Significant Cost Reduction Potential for Wave Energy Conversion Devices with Variable Geometry Modules: Supported by research from University of Massachusetts Amherst, NREL will design, model, and test a bottom-fixed variable-geometry oscillating surge wave energy converter (VGOSWEC). Similar to how wind turbines adjust the pitch of their blades when faced with increasing wind speeds, this technology is designed with variable geometries that can change shape when interacting with waves. This design has potential to not only reduce capital costs through reduction of materials and load on WECs, but can also be adapted for a variety of different types of wave energy devices.
  • Autonomous Benthic Macroinvertebrate and Larval Fish Imaging and Identification System: In collaboration with OceanSpace Sensors, ORNL will lead the development of a new hardware and state-of-the-art software prototype capable of automatically imaging and classifying benthic invertebrates and fish who dwell at the bottom of their aquatic environments. This technology could replace the need for labor-intensive and costly manual review of organisms in biological monitoring. ORNL will work with OceanSpace to advance the current Zooplankton Optical Imaging System prototype toward imaging and classifying accuracies greater than 95%.