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Brian Polagye

Faculty Photo

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Director, Pacific Marine Energy Center


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. He is also the convener for the development of an international standard to characterize the sounds produced by marine energy conversion systems (IEC TC 114 PT 62600-40).


  • 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 lab 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 energetic sites, with emphasis on marine energy resources, underwater sound, and integrated instrumentation packages.

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
  • Studying the effects of channel blockage on turbine performance
  • Developing low-cost drifting instrumentation packages for volumetric swarm sensing
  • Developing integrated instrumentation systems for marine energy projects
  • Measuring the acoustic characteristics of wave energy converters

Select publications

  1. Strom, B., Brunton, S., & Polagye, B. (2017). Intracycle angular velocity control of cross-flow turbines. Nature Energy, 2, doi: 10.1038/nenergy.2017.103.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. Cotter, E., Murphy, P., and Polagye, B. (2017) Benchmarking sensor fusion capabilities of an integrated instrumentation package. International Journal of Marine Energy. doi: 10.1016/j.ijome.2017.09.003.

Honors & awards

  • College of Engineering Junior Faculty Award, 2015