High- and Mid-Fidelity Modeling Comparison for a Floating Marine Turbine System: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


There is a lack of suitable numerical tools, particularly open-source tools, that can be used for designing and optimizing marine turbine systems. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has added features to their widely used mid-fidelity wind turbine modeling code, OpenFAST, to enable modeling of axial flow marine turbines. This necessitated the addition of several physical effects relevant to marine turbines that can be neglected for wind turbines. These include buoyant loads, added mass and inertia loads, wave-current superposition, and changes to the coordinate systems. This updated version of OpenFAST allows for the modeling of both fixed and floating marine turbine systems at a speed comparable to real time. While efficient for long simulations, large sets of load cases, and design studies, mid-fidelity codes cannot capture all of the potentially important physical phenomenon impacting marine turbine systems. High-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations can capture more flow effects with fewer assumptions and provide detailed body pressure mapping and flow-field information. It is important to compare predictions between mid-fidelity and high-fidelity codes, both to verify the models and to understand the limitations. A floating marine turbine system designed by NREL was modeled both with OpenFAST and with the commercial CFD code, STARCCM+. The CFD model used a 3-D unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes solver for a volume-of-fluid numerical wave and current tank. The blade-resolved simulations used the sliding-interface technique for the spinning rotor and an overset grid to accommodate the rigid-body motion of the floating system. The mooring system was modelled with a custom coupling of the CFD solver with the open-source code, MoorDyn. This improves upon the existing quasi-static catenary solver in STARCCM+, which lacks seabed contact or line-to-line connections. Spatial and temporal convergence studies were conducted. The simulation results for a combined current and wave condition are compared between OpenFAST and CFD, highlighting the capabilities of the mid-fidelity code and identifying the areas where a high-fidelity approach is needed.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2024
EventInternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering - Singapore
Duration: 9 Jun 202414 Jun 2024


ConferenceInternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-89298


  • CFD
  • floating marine turbine
  • floating RM1 quad
  • high-fidelity
  • mid-fidelity
  • OpenFAST


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