Lockheed Martin Energy

Meet Tony Pellegrino:

Research Engineering Senior Manager and EnerGENIUS at Lockheed Martin Energy. Tony is using the Earth’s vast oceans to generate reliable and renewable energy.

Simply Put: How does tidal energy work?

Tidal Energy is similar to wind energy, except instead of using wind to spin the blades of a turbine, you use the very reliable and consistent tidal flow to power a sub-sea turbine.

Tidal flows that we tap into move at about 7-10 miles per hour, which may seem slow when compared to wind, but considering the fact that water is approximately 800 times more dense than air, there is a lot of energy in those tidal flows.

What attracted you to ocean technologies and tidal energy?

First and foremost, it’s a challenge.  We are designing large complex systems in a very unforgiving sub-sea environment. The broad system level thinking, coupled with the design challenges is a great fit for my background and keeps me interested in pushing the boundaries with this technology.

And with a challenge this complex, it takes a true team effort to be successful. We have to collaborate effectively to consider design aspects across all engineering disciplines. I believe there is a role for everyone on this project – and the team comradery is something I thrive on.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job other than getting to play in the water, of course?

I truly enjoy watching all of the moving parts of a project come together for the first time. The AR1500 is the first tidal turbine that we have designed of this magnitude. There is nothing else in the world that is this sophisticated and of this size. To be part of a team developing a first-in-class system like this is extremely rewarding.  

What are some of the biggest challenges our engineers face in ocean technologies?

Beyond meeting the operational requirements, one of the most challenging aspects of the design is meeting its required service life.  Most systems can be serviced, or at a minimum inspected, on a semi-regular basis.  The AR1500 Tidal Turbine we are developing will be deployed on the ocean floor, making maintenance calls few and far between. In fact, our A1500 will not be scheduled for a single maintenance intervention for a minimum of 6.25 years. Imagine trying to design a car that is continuously driven every day and only gets a single service call every 6 years!

What innovative approach has Lockheed Martin Energy taken to address the complex challenges of tidal energy?

We have partnered with a commercial company and project developer Atlantis Resources Ltd (ARL) to develop the first-in-class AR1500 Tidal Turbine.  And as part of that partnership, we have invested in two critical subsystems, the Yaw Drive System (YDS) and Variable Pitch System (VPS).

These two subsystems allow the turbine to rotate around its base (the YDS) to always face into the tidal flow as well as to change the pitch angle of the turbine blades (the VPS) to optimize the power generation in a given tidal stream.  Both of these systems require extremely complicated structural components, high pressure hydraulic actuation systems and incredibly precise motion control.  To meet these challenges, our engineering team has instituted a very structured development process, with buy-in from other industry experts to implement the best design solution possible.  I am proud and humbled to be part of a team that has achieved so much, in such a relatively short amount of time – with much, much more to come.

What advice would you give an aspiring EnerGENIUS?

It’s a very rewarding experience to feel technically challenged and also find meaning in your work. If you can combine the two you create passion in an individual and passion drives people to achieve great things.  If you enjoy pushing the boundaries of technology and want to change the world, look to take advantage of an opportunity within LM Energy and become an EnerGENIUS!