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Low-Cost, User-Friendly Monitoring Tools for MHK Sites


b.      Low-Cost, User-Friendly Monitoring Tools for MHK Sites

This subtopic supports the development of novel methods for environmental monitoring and/or resource characterization at MHK sites that are very low cost and very easy to use. This may include hardware/sensing packages, methodologies, and/or software/analysis tools.


Uncertainty regarding environmental impacts of MHK devices has resulted in extensive baseline and post installation monitoring requirements, which can be difficult and expensive to fulfil with existing environmental monitoring technologies. Many existing environmental monitoring technologies are not designed for or validated for use in locations relevant to MHK. Meanwhile, monitoring efforts for resource characterization face similar challenges, especially for small scale, distributed MHK applications. Additionally, to detect what are anticipated to be rare extreme events, most monitoring systems produce large data streams which must then be extensively and complexly processed and analyzed. Previous research and development have made substantial improvements in the technical performance of monitoring technologies in MHK environments, yet the costs associated with data collection are still prohibitive, and analysis often needs to be performed by a technical specialist.


Areas of particular interest include, but are not limited to:

·         Detection of collision of fish, marine mammals, or diving seabirds with tidal turbines.

·         Collision of marine animals with tidal turbines. While this is believed to be a rare event and there have been limited observations of organisms being struck by or colliding with tidal turbines, there remains a limited ability to observe animals near a turbine, and collision occurrence rates and outcomes have not been well established.

·         Measurement of baseline and changes in noise, currents, or wave climate.

·         Identification of baseline conditions for ambient noise and physical systems such as currents and/or the wave climate. As part of permitting, MHK projects are often required to identify such baseline conditions and quantify if and how installation and operation of their device alters the soundscape and physical systems.

·         Leveraging or modifying existing MHK device performance monitoring technology for environmental monitoring.

·         A possible strategy for lowering cost, complexity, and effort is to harness existing monitoring and adapt it for other needs. If a variable, e.g. noise, is being monitored for device performance, perhaps some modifications could be made such that data collected for device monitoring could additionally serve site monitoring, or vice versa.

·         Environmental monitoring or resource characterization approaches specifically suited to small scale, distributed MHK, supporting Powering the Blue Economy initiatives.

·         Low-cost, user-friendly solutions for MHK monitoring. Smaller scale projects often have smaller scale budgets and personnel. Ideally solutions would apply or be adaptable to multiple project types and/or geographic regions, although especially creative and impactful solutions with a narrow focus could also be of interest.


A key consideration for this topic area is the creation of very low cost and very user-friendly monitoring tools and methodologies. Proposed systems should strive to reduce the cost of instrumentation and data collection by 50 percent as compared to current technologies and methodologies. Additionally, any tools or methodologies should be executable by personnel with basic training, and output data should be in a format and units that are readily understandable by MHK project teams and regulators, and directly address key environmental and/or resource questions.


For Phase I applicants will:

·         Produce a final design of the proposed technology or methodology;

·         Produce a refined drawing or schematic of the proposed system;

·         Develop a description of the cost associated with current technologies used for specified data collection and cost target for proposed technology at commercialization;

·         Provide detailed description of the level of training needed to operate the monitoring instrumentation and analyze data;

·         Provide a description and/or example of the final data output created by the monitoring technology and discuss how the data output addresses the needs of the target audiences;

·         Provide details of work to be performed in Phase 1 including required resources and technical performance targets;

·         Fabrication of a working prototype (for new methodologies and adaptations of existing technologies); Fabrication of a key component (for new technologies and new instruments)

·         Perform proof of concept testing of prototype or component in a lab or tank setting.


Phase II will include, but is not limited to:

·         Fabrication of a working prototype;

·         Rigorous testing of the technology in a relevant MHK environment;

·         A detailed plan for commercialization of the proposed technology.


In addition to the above requirements for Phase I, competitive applicants should demonstrate knowledge, experience, and/or capabilities in developing monitoring technologies for the marine environment and include the following in their application:

·         A preliminary design of the proposed system and a clear description on how the system would operate;

·         A drawing or schematic of the proposed system;

·         A cost estimate for the proposed system and comparison to costs for existing state of the art technologies;

·         An estimate of the level of training needed to operate the proposed monitoring instrumentation and analyze resulting data;

·         A conceptualized or actual example of the proposed output data;

·         Team members or external advisors with essential expertise relating to both MHK and environmental monitoring / resource characterization


Questions – Contact: Rajesh Dham, Rajesh.Dham@EE.Doe.Gov

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