Ocean Engineering

University of Tasmania

Marine current turbines, powered by tides, work on a similar principle to wind turbines to create renewable energy, but operate in the harsh marine environment. Dr Walker’s research investigates how marine growth, or biofouling, affects turbine performance by testing the prototypes under different surfaces conditions in experimental testing facilities. She has also developed a numerical model to predict the performance of tidal turbines under such conditions. Jess’s results show that the presence of roughness on the turbine blades has a significant detrimental impact on the performance of the turbine.
Understanding how marine growth affects turbine performance will influence future turbine design contributing to sustainable, efficient and competitive energy generation and addressing a significant barrier to the viability of this important source of renewable energy.

Jessica was a ‘Young Tassie Scientist’ in 2007 and 2010, visiting schools statewide to talk about what engineers do and run a simple hands-on demonstratios. She has also visited schools as part of the Science and Engineering Challenge as well as running activities on competition day. She was the invited speaker for International Women’s Day for the Australian Institute of Project Management in 2011. In 2012 she participated in a girls STEM day at the United States Naval Academy and helped run activities, as well as giving a speech to approximately 100 young girls.