Manufacturing & Engineering

Tidal Turbine for Sustainable Ocean Energy

Computational modelling and simulation have progressed to become the third pillar of science#1 and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is one of the disciplines used to create digital simulations that provide value in the design of innovative products. Leveraging CFD could greatly reduce the need for physical prototypes and testing, thus leading to more efficient design processes. Particularly in harsh environments and complex operational requirements for ocean energy conversion, the adoption of digital tools has significantly increased in designing green products for a sustainable future.  

Among the renewable energy sources, the ocean has the highest energy density compared to wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. Traditional design spiral and model test cycles of ocean energy devices are expensive and time-consuming. Not only does the use of CFD offers a practical and cost-effective alternative, but it also provides a better understanding of the flow field for improved design, optimisation, and operation. 

With the development and application of the digital tool, the research team has designed a tidal turbine to convert tidal energy into electricity in terms of ebb (the reflux of the tide toward the sea) and flood tides. This tidal turbine has symmetrical hydrofoils for a bi-directional and counter-rotating ocean flow. 


  • High-fidelity CFD simulations for performance evaluations
  • High-efficient and cost-effective
  • Digitalisation for design innovation

The Science Behind

Tidal currents in terms of ebb and flood tides are approximately bidirectional. A Horizontal Axial Tidal Turbine (HATT) must always be able to face the tidal current directions to maximise its energy harvesting capability. Like a wind turbine, the tidal turbine could be either designed with a yaw or pitch control mechanism to keep the turbine always facing the current direction. However, neither the yaw nor pitch control solution is cost-effective in terms of harsh environmental conditions, installation, operation, or maintenance. To address this challenge, A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance (IHPC) team designed a bi-directional turbine blade.

Diagram of ocean flow across the bi-directional tidal turbine

Fig 1. Diagram of ocean flow across the bi-directional tidal turbine

A bi-directional fully symmetrical blade (Fig 1) and a hub design are conceptualised and analysed at various rotational speeds to determine the turbine efficiency for the specified scenarios. High-fidelity CFD simulations help to achieve optimal performance under various environmental and operational conditions, as well as drive digital design innovation in ocean energy device development. Currently, the team is preparing the site testing and data acquisition for verification and future design improvement.

Industry Applications

  • Marine and Offshore:  Tidal turbines; Offshore wind turbine/Farm; Propeller
  • Aerospace: Compressor, Fan, Turbine
  • Other industries: Pump

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