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FAU’s SeaTech - Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering Receives Funding from Department of Energy in Support of Harnessing Ocean Energy

Manhar Dhanak, Ph.D, director of SeaTech - Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering in Dania Beach, director of research, Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center and professor in the department of ocean and mechanical engineering at Florida Atlantic University, has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to characterize electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions associated with transmission of power from an offshore energy generating device to an onshore station and assess its impact on marine life. The observational work would be carried out at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division’s South Florida Ocean Measurement Facility (SFOMF) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Dhanak, the principal investigator of the two-year project, and co-investigator Richard Spieler, Ph.D, who is a professor at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), will lead a team of graduate students, engineers and researchers from FAU’s SeaTech and NSU and collaborate with personnel from SFOMF.

"This is an important collaborative project between FAU, NSU and SFOMF that builds on previous collaborative work on marine magnetics between the partners," said Dhanak.

The purpose of the project is to monitor and assess how electromagnetic fields affect the behavior of local marine species and sea‐floor communities. Researchers will distinguish EMF emissions from existing cables on the SFOMF range and their impact on marine life using sensors and cameras from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that is mounted on the sea floor. The data gathered from the AUV will be used to measure EMF emissions that are representative of typical marine hydrokinetic equipment that may be sited offshore and characterizing marine life activity.

The project will establish a database of field measurements, and use it, in conjunction with project collaborator NSU to assess the potential ecological impacts of the electromagnetic fields on individual organisms, populations and communities in the vicinity.

"We are pleased to be partnering with FAU on this project. The research will add substantial knowledge to our understanding of the interactions between electrical fields and marine life," said Spieler.

The research data gathered from this project will help ensure that potential environmental impacts are addressed proactively as wave, tidal and offshore wind devices are developed for alternative energy sources.

For more information, contact Manhar Dhanak at dhanak@fau.edu.

September 19, 2013

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