The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) recently selected three students for this year’s cohort for the Marine and Hydrokinetic Graduate Student Research Program. As part of this program, the students will advance their doctoral theses with access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available across national laboratories, industry partners, or another approved facility.

Marine energy uses natural energy from moving water—such as waves, tides, and river and ocean currents—to produce renewable power. The power coursing through oceans and rivers equates to nearly 60% of the United States’ total electricity needs. Even if only a small portion of this technical resource potential is captured, marine energy could make significant contributions to the nation’s energy needs and provide millions of Americans with locally sourced, clean, and reliable energy.

During the program, students will undertake research to advance the understanding and development of marine energy renewable resources. Projects include:

  • Claire Gonzales from the University of California, Santa Barbara, will work with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to advance research into the co-location of marine renewable energy with offshore aquaculture development along the California coast. This work is intended to address both social and physical factors that will inform renewable energy development efforts and ultimately help evaluate proposed marine renewable energy co-location projects. Claire is pursuing a doctorate in marine science.
  • Habilou Ouro-Koura from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will work with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to create a comprehensive tool to cost-effectively develop efficient ocean thermal energy harvesters to power long-range and long-duration underwater unmanned vehicles. Ocean thermal energy harvesters can use temperature changes in the ocean to generate electricity and power these vehicles. Habilou is pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering.
  • Christopher Ruhl from Lehigh University will work with Sandia National Laboratories to characterize turbulence at tidal energy sites around the world. This information will help project developers evaluate tidal energy resources and provide insight on environmental conditions to inform the design of hydrokinetic turbines. Christopher is pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering.

Funded by WPTO and administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), the Marine and Hydrokinetic Graduate Student Research Program is open to full-time doctoral students with a research thesis or dissertation at a U.S. institution. WPTO and ORISE typically release the application for this annual program in October, and the next round of applications will be available to all graduate (master’s and doctoral) students.