The R/V Henderson is a purpose-built vessel constructed for the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in the 1950's. The Henderson has supported numerous projects for the US Navy and other federal agencies. Until recently, the facility has primarily been used for acoustics research. As part of an initiative to support Navy renewable energy goals, the Henderson is undergoing a refit to prepare it for duty in a series of field trials to test wave and tidal energy conversion technologies.
The basic idea is to test devices from a mobile platform. Rather than install prototype devices on the sea floor and route power to shore, everything is integrated onboard. Equipped with a micro-grid and monitoring infrastructure, this fully-mobile laboratory has the flexibility needed to test small-scale technologies in a range of conditions. Testing is conducted in both Lake Washington and Puget Sound (click links for testing location specifications). This allows us to anchor in a given location and convert energy on site, or if we want to simulate specific conditions, we can actually drive the vessel at constant speed and generate flow relative to the devices under test.
The Henderson is a 70-foot steel-hulled catamaran vessel with a large interior lab space, a traveling overhead hoist, and a large wet well between the hulls. The general layout of the vessel is well-suited for marine renewable energy field experiments and is attracting federal funds to the Pacific Northwest in order to demonstrate the value of marine renewables to early adopters. The overall objective is to develop a technology pipeline whereby NNMREC and APL researchers can collaborate with industry developers to commercialize viable energy conversion technologies. Field demonstrations from onboard the vessel are a critical element of this initiative
In order to facilitate this research activity we are undergoing a vessel refit and modernization effort. This test bed is maximizing the impact of NNMREC’s activities, attracting future funds for follow-on research, and encouraging industry developers from around the nation to collaborate with local institutions (both Academia and Industry).
We work closely with companies that have a strong likelihood of growing operations in the Pacific Northwest. Investment in marine renewable energy test infrastructure is critical to our success and has an immediate impact. In-water testing is challenging for small companies due to cost, availability of equipment, and environmental regulations. Our unique expertise and specialized infrastructure allows companies to focus on their technology and lowers the barrier of entry.