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Advanced Sensor Technologies

One thing impeding the growth of MHK is the potential impact on the environment. Researchers do not fully know how MHK affects wildlife. To get a better grasp of the effects and accelerate the deployment of MHK, researchers at PNNL are studying and developing new technologies to measure and evaluate the environmental performance of MHK.

Scientists and regulators are looking for solutions and technologies uniquely suited to answer real-world MHK regulatory questions. This includes developing tools that automatically identify when animals and organisms approach MHK turbines, and testing these for accuracy and usability.

Our scientists have access to the Department of Energy's only Marine Sciences Laboratory (MSL). This means they have the resources they need to test new instruments and tools developed by others all around the world.

Nekton Interaction Monitoring System

Nekton Interaction Monitoring System

Sonar is uniquely suited to characterize interactions between MHK turbines and marine organisms; however, this method introduces a new set of challenges: data backlogs. Continuous sonar monitoring can produce over a terabyte of data per week and analyzing this much data can be incredibly time consuming.

Researchers from PNNL and the University of Washington developed a real-time processing system for sonar to detect and track animals, and extract water column biomass statistics to facilitate continuous monitoring of an underwater environment.

This real-time processing system, called Nekton Interaction Monitoring System (NIMS), is a software tool used to characterize biological activity and interactions at marine energy sites. MHK developers, regulators, and stakeholders can use NIMS to gain a practical, common basis for quantifying and monitoring the potential for MHK impacts to habitats.

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EyeSea

EyeSea

A common and simple means of seeing how fish and mammals interact with MHK systems is to set up an underwater camera and begin recording. One hour of video, however, can take 5 or more hours to assess manually, and it is not uncommon for there to be hundreds of hours of footage to review.

A PNNL-developed software tool, called EyeSea, automates the analysis of underwater video footage. Funded by DOE's Water Power Technologies Office, EyeSea uses machine vision algorithms to "watch" video footage for any incidents where a fish or mammal is near an MHK turbine. The tool automatically detects when a fish or mammal enters the frame and flags every event. The flagged events tell an operator which segments of footage should be evaluated, significantly reducing labor time without incurring a data backlog.

PNNL is refining the algorithms behind EyeSea. If successful, EyeSea will be made available to MHK operators and developers to streamline siting and permitting processes, and meet post-installation monitoring requirements at future MHK sites.

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Triton Initiative

Triton Initiative

The Triton Initiative is funded by the DOE Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and is operated by PNNL. Triton supports the development and testing of environmental monitoring technologies. Through Triton, PNNL scientists are working together with partners from industry, academia, and other national laboratories to develop next-generation environmental monitoring technologies and solutions in support of MHK technology.

Triton is based at MSL, where DOE WPTO project awardees have access to laboratory space, field testing venues, Triton staff, and infrastructure. This includes operation support from PNNL's scientific dive team, and access to our research vessels. Vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art sonar and survey equipment, as well as hydraulic davits and a 1,000-lb. research A-Frame.

MSL has all necessary permits to undertake specific work under the Triton Initiative and provides laboratory and electrical engineering facilities. The MSL's location provides easy access to in-water testing venues via a pier with a floating dock and boat ramp. Data can be relayed via a secured overwater wireless network or cabled back to the pier.

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Water Power Research