Re-creating waves in large currents for tidal energy applications

Sam Draycott, Duncan Sutherland, Jeffrey Steynor, Brian Sellar, Vengatesan Venugopal

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Unsteady wave loading on tidal turbines impacts significantly the design, and expected life-time, of turbine blades and other key components. Model-scale testing of tidal turbines in the wave-current environment can provide vital understanding by emulating real-world load cases; however, to reduce uncertainty, it is important to isolate laboratory-specific artefacts from real-world behaviour. In this paper, a variety of realistic combined current-wave scenarios is re-created at the FloWave basin, where the main objective is to understand the characteristics of testing in a combined wave-current environment and assess whether wave effects on the flow field can be predicted. Here, we show that a combination of linear wave-current theory and frequency-domain reflection analysis can be used to effectively predict wave-induced particle velocities and identify velocity components that are experimental artefacts. Load-specific mechanisms present in real-world conditions can therefore be isolated, and equivalent full-scale load cases can be estimated with greater confidence. At higher flow speeds, a divergence from the theory presented is observed due to turbulence-induced non-stationarity. The methodology and results presented increase learning about the wave-current testing environment and provide analysis tools able to improve test outputs and conclusions from scale model testing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2017


    • Tank testing
    • Tidal energy
    • Wave orbitals
    • Wave reflection analysis
    • Wave-current interaction


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