Environmental Effects of Hydrokinetic Turbines on Fish: Desktop and Laboratory Flume Studies

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This collection of three reports describes desktop and laboratory flume studies that provide information to support assessment of the potential for injury and mortality of fish that encounter hydrokinetic turbines of various designs installed in tidal and river environments. Behavioral responses to turbine exposure also are investigated to support assessment of the potential for disruptions to upstream and downstream movements of fish. The studies: (1) conducted an assessment of potential injury mechanisms using available data from studies with conventional hydro turbines; (2) developed theoretical models for predicting blade strike probabilities and mortality rates; and (3) performed flume testing with three ... continued below

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Jacobson, Paul T.; Amaral, Stephen V.; Castro-Santos, Theodore; Giza, Dan; Haro, Alexander J.; Hecker, George et al. December 31, 2012.

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This collection of three reports describes desktop and laboratory flume studies that provide information to support assessment of the potential for injury and mortality of fish that encounter hydrokinetic turbines of various designs installed in tidal and river environments. Behavioral responses to turbine exposure also are investigated to support assessment of the potential for disruptions to upstream and downstream movements of fish. The studies: (1) conducted an assessment of potential injury mechanisms using available data from studies with conventional hydro turbines; (2) developed theoretical models for predicting blade strike probabilities and mortality rates; and (3) performed flume testing with three turbine designs and several fish species and size groups in two laboratory flumes to estimate survival rates and document fish behavior. The project yielded three reports which this document comprises. The three constituent documents are addressed individually below Fish Passage Through Turbines: Application of Conventional Hydropower Data to Hydrokinetic Technologies Fish passing through the blade sweep of a hydrokinetic turbine experience a much less harsh physical environment than do fish entrained through conventional hydro turbines. The design and operation of conventional turbines results in high flow velocities, abrupt changes in flow direction, relatively high runner rotational and blade speeds, rapid and significant changes in pressure, and the need for various structures throughout the turbine passageway that can be impacted by fish. These conditions generally do not occur or are not significant factors for hydrokinetic turbines. Furthermore, compared to conventional hydro turbines, hydrokinetic turbines typically produce relatively minor changes in shear, turbulence, and pressure levels from ambient conditions in the surrounding environment. Injuries and mortality from mechanical injuries will be less as well, mainly due to low rotational speeds and strike velocities, and an absence of structures that can lead to grinding or abrasion injuries. Additional information is needed to rigorously assess the nature and magnitude of effects on individuals and populations, and to refine criteria for design of more fish-friendly hydrokinetic turbines. Evaluation of Fish Injury and Mortality Associated with Hydrokinetic Turbines Flume studies exposed fish to two hydrokinetic turbine designs to determine injury and survival rates and to assess behavioral responses. Also, a theoretical model developed for predicting strike probability and mortality of fish passing through conventional hydro turbines was adapted for use with hydrokinetic turbines and applied to the two designs evaluated during flume studies. The flume tests were conducted with the Lucid spherical turbine (LST), a Darrieus-type (cross flow) turbine, and the Welka UPG, an axial flow propeller turbine. Survival rates for rainbow trout tested with the LST were greater than 98% for both size groups and approach velocities evaluated. Turbine passage survival rates for rainbow trout and largemouth bass tested with the Welka UPG were greater than 99% for both size groups and velocities evaluated. Injury rates of turbine-exposed fish were low with both turbines and generally comparable to control fish. Video observations of the LST demonstrated active avoidance of turbine passage by a large proportion fish despite being released about 25 cm upstream of the turbine blade sweep. Video observations from behavior trials indicated few if any fish pass through the turbines when released farther upstream. The theoretical predictions for the LST indicated that strike mortality would begin to occur at an ambient current velocity of about 1.7 m/s for fish with lengths greater than the thickness of the leading edge of the blades. As current velocities increase above 1.7 m/s, survival was predicted to decrease for fish passing through the LST, but generally remained high (greater than 90%) for fish less than 200 mm in length. Strike mortality was not predicted to occur during passage through a Welka UPG turbine at ambient current velocities less than about 2.5 m/s. Survival and Behavior of Juvenile Atlantic Salmon and Adult American Shad on Exposure to a Hydrokinetic Turbine This report describes a series of experiments designed to measure the effect of exposure to a full-scale, vertical axis hydrokinetic turbine on downstream migrating juvenile Atlantic salmon and upstream migrating adult American shad. Studies were performed in a large-scale, open-channel flume, and all individuals approached the turbine under volitional control. No injuries were observed, and there was no measurable increase in mortality associated with turbine passage. Exposure to the turbine elicited behavioral responses from both species, however, with salmon passing primarily over the downrunning blades. Shad movement was impeded in the presence of the device, as indicated by fewer attempts of shorter duration and reduced distance of ascent up the flume. More work should be performed in both laboratory and field conditions to determine the extent to which observed effects are likely to influence fish in riverine environments. Analysis is needed to assess the potential for multiple units to lead to greater mortality rates or impacts on fish movements and migrations. Additionally, future research should focus on expanding the existing data by developing better estimates of encounter and avoidance probabilities.

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  • Report No.: DOE-EE-0002659-1
  • Grant Number: EE0002659
  • DOI: 10.2172/1084623 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1084623
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc842877

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  • December 31, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • July 22, 2016, 4:20 p.m.

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Jacobson, Paul T.; Amaral, Stephen V.; Castro-Santos, Theodore; Giza, Dan; Haro, Alexander J.; Hecker, George et al. Environmental Effects of Hydrokinetic Turbines on Fish: Desktop and Laboratory Flume Studies, report, December 31, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc842877/: accessed August 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.