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Brian Polagye

Faculty Photo

Director, Pacific Marine Energy Center

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Pronouns: He/him


Brian Polagye is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Director of the Pacific Marine Energy Center, a collaboration between the University of Washington, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His research focuses on marine renewable energy conversion and its environmental effects, with the ultimate goal of developing cost-effective, sustainable approaches.


  • Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, 2009
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, 2005
  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Princeton University, 2000

Research Statement

Brian Polagye's research group focuses on the conversion of marine renewable energy resources (river, tidal, and ocean currents, as well as waves) to mechanical power. One thrust area is optimizing the hydrodynamics and control of conversion systems, primarily through laboratory experiments and field demonstrations. A second thrust area is developing and applying instrumentation necessary to characterize marine energy sites, with emphasis on underwater sound and integrated instrumentation systems.

Current research topics include:

  • Studying the hydrodynamics of cross-flow current turbines to increase individual turbine and array power yields
  • Studying the hydrodynamics and control of multi-body wave energy converters
  • Developing low-cost drifting instrumentation packages for volumetric swarm sensing
  • Developing integrated instrumentation systems for marine energy projects
  • Measuring the acoustic characteristics of marine energy converters

Select publications

  1. Cotter, E. and Polagye, B. (2020) Automatic classification of biological targets in a tidal channel using a multibeam sonar. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-19-0222.1
  2. Polagye, B., Joslin, J., Murphy, P., Cotter, E., Scott, M., Gibbs, P., Bassett, C., and Stewart, A. (2020) Adaptable Monitoring Package development and deployment: Lessons learned for integrated instrumentation at marine energy sites. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 8, 553. doi:10.3390/jmse8080553
  3. Harrison, T., Thyng, K., and Polagye, B. (2020) Comparative evaluation of volumetric current measurements in a tidally-dominated, coastal setting: a virtual field experiment. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 37 (4): 533–552. doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-19-0131.1
  4. Ross, H. and Polagye, B. (2020) An experimental assessment of analytical blockage corrections for turbines. Renewable Energy, 152. doi: 10.1016/j.renene.2020.01.135
  5. Polagye, B., Strom, B., Ross, H., Forbush, D., and Cavagnaro, R. (2019) Comparison of cross-flow turbine performance under torque-regulated and speed-regulated control, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, 11(4). doi: 10.1063/1.5087476
  6. Strom, B., Brunton, S., & Polagye, B. (2017). Intracycle angular velocity control of cross-flow turbines. Nature Energy, 2, doi: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.103.
  7. Forbush, D., Polagye, B., Thomson, J., Kilcher, L., Donegan, J., & McEntee, J. (2016). Performance characterization of a cross-flow hydrokinetic turbine in sheared inflow. International Journal of Marine Energy, 16, 150-161.
  8. Cavagnaro, R. & Polagye, B. (2016) Field performance assessment of a hydrokinetic turbine. International Journal of Marine Energy, doi: 10.1016/j.ijome.2016.01.009.
  9. Bassett, C., Thomson, J., Dahl, P. H., & Polagye, B. (2014). Flow-noise and turbulence in two tidal channels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135(4), 1764-1774. doi:10.1121/1.4867360.
  10. Polagye, B., & Thomson, J. (2013). Tidal energy resource characterization: methodology and field study in Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound, WA (USA). Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy, 227(3), 352-367. doi:10.1177/0957650912470081
  11. Bassett, C., B. Polagye, M. Holt, & J. Thomson (2012). A vessel noise budget for Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound, Washington (USA). J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 132(6), 3706-3719.
  12. Thomson, J., B. Polagye, V. Durgesh, & M. Richmond (2012). Measurements of turbulence at two tidal energy sites in Puget Sound, WA (USA), IEEE J. Ocean. Eng., 37(3), 363-374.
  13. Polagye, B., M. Kawase, & P. Malte. (2009). In-stream tidal energy potential of Puget Sound, Washington, Proc. IMechE, Part A: J. Power and Energy, 223(5).
  14. Polagye, B., P. Malte, and K. Hodgson. An economic analysis of bio-energy options using thinnings from overstocked forests, Biomass and Bio-energy, 31(2-3), 2007.

Honors & awards

  • College of Engineering Junior Faculty Award, 2015