A new concept of hydrokinetic turbine using oscillating hydrofoils to extract energy from water currents (tidal or gravitational) is presented, tested and analyzed in the present investigation. Due to its rectangular extraction plane, this technology is particularly well suited for river beds and shallow waters near the coasts. The present turbine is a 2 kW prototype, composed of two rectangular oscillating hydrofoils of aspect ratio 7 in a tandem spatial configuration. The pitching motion of each hydrofoil is coupled to their cyclic heaving motion through four-link mechanisms which effectively yield a one-degree-of-freedom system driving a speed-controlled electric generator. The turbine has been mounted on a custom-made pontoon boat and dragged on a lake at different velocities. Instantaneous extracted power has been measured and cycle-averaged for several water flow velocities and hydrofoil oscillation frequencies. Results are demonstrated to be self-consistent and validate our extensive 2D flow simulation database. The present data show optimal performances of the oscillating hydrofoils concept at a reduced frequency of about 0.12, at which condition the measured power extraction efficiency reaches 40% once the overall losses in the mechanical system are taken into account. Further measurements of power extraction with a single oscillating hydrofoil have also been performed by taking out the downstream hydrofoil of the tandem pair. Those measurements favorably compare, quantitatively, with available 3D CFD predictions. The 40% hydrodynamic efficiency of this first prototype exceeds expectation and reaches levels comparable to the best performances achievable with modern rotor-blades turbines. It thus demonstrates the promising potential of the oscillating hydrofoils technology to efficiently extract power from an incoming water flow.

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