Ocean Energy Systems Wave Energy Modeling Task 10.4: Numerical Modeling of a Fixed Oscillating Water Column

Harry Bingham, Yi-Hsiang Yu, Kim Nielsen, Thanh Tran, Kyong-Hwan Kim, Sewan Park, Keyyong Hong, Hafix Said, Thomas Kelly, John Ringwood, Robert Read, Edward Ransley, Scott Brown, Deborah Greaves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus Citations


This paper reports on an ongoing international effort to establish guidelines for numerical modeling of wave energy converters, initiated by the International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Program for Ocean Energy Systems. Initial results for point absorbers were presented in previous work, and here we present results for a breakwater-mounted Oscillating Water Column (OWC) device. The experimental model is at scale 1:4 relative to a full-scale installation in a water depth of 12.8 m. The power-extracting air turbine is modeled by an orifice plate of 1–2% of the internal chamber surface area. Measurements of chamber surface elevation, air flow through the orifice, and pressure difference across the orifice are compared with numerical calculations using both weakly-nonlinear potential flow theory and computational fluid dynamics. Both compressible-and incompressible-flow models are considered, and the effects of air compressibility are found to have a significant influence on the motion of the internal chamber surface. Recommendations are made for reducing uncertainties in future experimental campaigns, which are critical to enable firm conclusions to be drawn about the relative accuracy of the numerical models. It is well-known that boundary element method solutions of the linear potential flow problem (e.g., WAMIT) are singular at infinite frequency when panels are placed directly on the free surface. This is problematic for time-domain solutions where the value of the added mass matrix at infinite frequency is critical, especially for OWC chambers, which are modeled by zero-mass elements on the free surface. A straightforward rational procedure is described to replace ad-hoc solutions to this problem that have been proposed in the literature.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1718
Number of pages35
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-79162


  • Boundary element method
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Experimental measurements
  • Numerical modeling
  • Simulation
  • Wave energy


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