Properly understanding and quantifying the wave forces is key to a successful engineering design – for affordability and safety. Modelling the performance of the structure to help optimise the design before construction begins is therefore crucial for cost savings.
Computational simulations can be used to analyse the wave pressures exerted on a foundation structure under a range of conditions. To calibrate and validate these numerical models, it is necessary to gather data on the structure’s behaviour by building a scale model and conducting physical tests in a wave flume. Hydraulic specialists can run tests in the flume for different wave conditions and wind directions.
The data gathered from physical and computational modelling are then used by engineers to perform further structural analysis and refine the design. Having determined the most efficient dimensions for the design, construction costs can be calculated, which in turn are fed into the levelized cost of energy.
We recently tested Floating Energy Systems’ foundation concept to help reduce risks and make it cost-effective. Engineers used physical (1:67 scale) and computational models to examine the Stinger Keel’s hydrodynamic performance as part of a one-year project funded by Innovate UK.
Our team developed two numerical models – an OpenFAST model and an OpenFOAM CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamic) model. The OpenFAST model looks more suitable at early design stages for calculating initial wave and hydrodynamic pressures on the structure. The CFD model is useful in advanced design stages for finetuning details. It can also be used for future design iterations, without the need for further physical testing, which will save time and money.