A Wave Energy Converter Design Load Case Study: Article No. 250

Jennifer van Rij, Yi-Hsiang Yu, Yi Guo, Ryan Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus Citations


This article presents an example by which design loads for a wave energy converter (WEC) might be estimated through the various stages of the WEC design process. Unlike previous studies, this study considers structural loads, for which, an accurate assessment is crucial to the optimization and survival of a WEC. Three levels of computational fidelity are considered. The first set of design load approximations are made using a potential flow frequency-domain boundary-element method with generalized body modes. The second set of design load approximations are made using a modified version of the linear-based time-domain code WEC-Sim. The final set of design load simulations are realized using computational fluid dynamics coupled with finite element analysis to evaluate the WEC's loads in response to both regular and focused waves. This study demonstrates an efficient framework for evaluating loads through each of the design stages. In comparison with experimental and high-fidelity simulation results, the linear-based methods can roughly approximate the design loads and the sea states at which they occur. The high-fidelity simulations for regular wave responses correspond well with experimental data and appear to provide reliable design load data. The high-fidelity simulations of focused waves, however, result in highly nonlinear interactions that are not predicted by the linear-based most-likely extreme response design load method.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-74114


  • computational fluid dynamics
  • design loads
  • extreme conditions
  • fluid structure interaction
  • wave energy converter


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