Wave Energy Extraction from Device Arrays: Experimental Investigation in a Large Wave Facility

  • Samuel Weller

Student thesis: Phd


Multiple wave energy devices supported by a common structure represent one possible method of efficiently converting ocean wave energy into electricity. In this study, experimental measurements of multiple small-scale wave energy devices are reported to assist the development and validation of numerical models. Through observation and measurement, the response of two float geometries subjected to a range of wave conditions and device settings were determined. A range of regular wave conditions were identified that caused a linear relationship to occur between the heave displacement amplitude of the float and the incident wave amplitude. These test cases will enable comparisons to be made with linear simulations of response. Tests conducted in various wave conditions have highlighted the capability of altering the device response by changing the equilibrium draft of one float geometry. Additional damping on the upper surface of the float, due to wave overtopping, could be exploited as a method of limiting the heave response of the device in large amplitude waves. The influence of hydrodynamic interactions on arrays of closely spaced devices has been experimentally investigated for devices subjected to regular and irregular wave conditions. The magnitude and occurrence of interactions and their affect on the individual device response is demonstrably dependent on the incident wave frequency and device separation distance. Compared to an isolated device, positive interactions result in higher average power outputs for an array of devices at certain wave frequencies. Positive interactions occuring at particular wave frequencies are balanced by negative interactions at other wave frequencies, in agreement with published numerical studies of array performance. Varying the level of mechanical damping applied to the float through the power take-off system results in a frequency shift of the calculated power transfer function and alters the motion path of the float. This finding implies that the level of generator torque could be used as an alternative method to tune the response of the device based on the measured incident wave-field. Several time-averaged and time-varying approaches to simulating the response of a wave energy device subjected to wave-field forcing and undergoing free response have been studied. By comparing the simulated and measured responses, the feasibility of using linear and non-linear force terms in a time-varying model has been assessed. In general, single degree-of-freedom simulations based on linear hydrodynamic parameters tend to over-predict device response amplitudes, requiring the application of additional damping. The simulation approach which resulted in the closest agreement with measured responses required the combination of linear diffraction force and radiation added mass terms with non-linear drag and buoyancy force terms, as well as body inertia and gravity forces. This approach goes part way to simulating the complex time-varying hydrodynamics associated with a wave energy device subjected to wave-field forcing.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTimothy Stallard (Supervisor)


  • Wave energy converter
  • Array
  • Interactions

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