Water Horse Rides the Tanana River Again

Water Horse Rides the Tanana River Again

Harnessing the kinetic energy of a moving river of water has been achieved through many different energy harvesting designs. ACEP researchers at the Tanana River Test Site in Nenana completed 10 days of field testing of the second iteration of the water horse galloping hydrokinetic energy harvester. 

Based on marine hydrokinetic technology developed by Renerge Inc., the water horse prototype converts river currents into electrical energy by harnessing forces developed by vortex shedding off a submerged bluff body. The bluff body oscillates up and down in the current and the system converts this motion into electricity through a power take-off mechanism and generator.

This summer’s testing examined the performance of a dual oscillator system, with bluff bodies positioned upstream and downstream to investigate the effects of wake off the upstream bluff body on the performance of the downstream system. Mechanical suspension, spring and power take-off systems were improved from the first prototype tested in 2020. An electronic power converter system was also implemented and tested to convert the power pulses from the water horse into usable DC power. Data collected from field testing will be analyzed to quantify the system power curve and efficiency, and estimate the levelized-cost-of-energy achievable with the Water Horse approach.

This work is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under the Water Power Technologies Office award number DE-EE0008389, “Water Horse Hydroelectric Harvester Development.”


The second iteration of the water horse generates energy on the test barge at the Tanana River Test Site sear Nenana. Photo by Amanda Byrd.