Date of Award
This design project was sponsored by a Fall River, MA based company PowerDocks as well as the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) based in Newport, RI. The project the team has worked on involves a Data Acquisition Buoy, aka the DAB, which is marketed for the aquaculture industry with uses in naval applications at NUWC. The scope of this project spans many facets including mechanical, electrical and fluid mechanical studies. The purpose of the PowerDocks product is to bring remote water quality data to aquaculture farmers to best manage and forecast conditions for ideal farming in a variety of sea conditions. The team was tasked with optimizing the design of the buoy hull within the mechanical, and electrical parameters to obtain a sleek, lightweight and self-sustaining product for future development into naval and aquaculture markets. In the first phase of the project, research needed to be done in order to gain a better understanding of products currently on the market for comparison as well as fundamental concepts that would need to be implemented into the project. Literature searches were conducted in order to better understand concepts such as manufacturing, buoyancy and solar power for application into the product. Patent searches  were done in order to find competitive products on the market currently as well as to avoid patent infringement. In the next phase of the project the team of four each documented 30 concept designs, narrowed down to a couple top designs, and modeled those in Solidworks. Team 20 used some basic buoyancy equations to determine whether our design would given an idealized weight parameter given to the team by the sponsors. Once confirmed, the team went ahead and started on determining the electronic assembly that would reside inside of the buoy through the sponsor, PowerDocks. The overall shape and design of the buoy would then be optimized given the parameters of the electronic components such as weight, size and placement. Simulations were done in Solidworks including the shell, sensors, sensor gateway, solar panels confirming the center of gravity as well as the waterline of the vessel. A scaled down version along with scaled weights is to be made and tested going forward with this project for a real-world/small scale trial. After determining potential issues with the small scale design and new details regarding the electronic package given to us by sponsor, the hull was redesigned for better performance. A full-scale model of the redesign was made to better represent ocean conditions. Final production methods were too expensive for the prototype build, so alternative methods were used. Full-scale testing was done twice in the University of Rhode Island Tootle Pool and a test with electronics implemented in prototype was done at the end of the semester at NUWC as a proof of concept for PowerDocks to go forward with this design.
Dambek, James; Ewing, Logan; Kearney, Joe; and Millspaugh, Ian, "Buoy Design Optimization Study" (2019). Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Projects. Paper 69.