Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Ossama Abdelkhalik

Advisor 2

Fernando Ponta

Committee Member 1

Andrew Barnard

Committee Member 2

Ali Ebnenasir


Wave Energy Converter Array is a practical approach to harvest ocean wave energy. To leverage the potential of the WEC array in terms of energy extraction, it is essential to have a properly designed array configuration and control system. This thesis explores the optimal configuration of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) arrays and their optimal control. The optimization of the WEC array allows both dimensions of individual WECs as well as the array layout to varying. In the first optimization problem, cylindrical buoys are assumed in the array where their radii and drafts are optimization parameters. Genetic Algorithms are used for optimization. Three case studies are investigated of different array sizes: 3, 5, and 7 devices in the array. Two types of controls are assumed; the first is the standard impedance matching control while the second is a derivative control. The numerical test cases demonstrate that a higher q-factor is achieved when optimizing the buoys dimensions simultaneously with the array layout. In the conducted test cases, it is shown that optimizing the array layout can increase the q-factor on average by 39.21% when using optimal control, and increase it on average by a factor of 8.87% when using a derivative control.

Arrays of wave energy converters (WECs) usually have large spacing between members of the array to avoid negative hydrodynamic interaction between members in the array. Errors in estimating the spacing between members may result in a significant degradation in the performance of the array in terms of the total harvested energy, due to destructive hydrodynamic interaction between members of the array. In this thesis, a hybrid design of wave energy converter arrays, that contains two types of WECs, the heaving buoys, and the floating flap-type devices, is investigated and compared against traditional WEC arrays of heaving buoys. The resulting q-factor is less sensitive to deviations in the spacing from the design layout. This hybrid array, hence, enables more WECs in the same ocean area. The two types of arrays are tested using 40 layouts that have different separation distances ranging from small to large. With the hybrid configuration, the array achieved a variance of the q-factor as low as 0.006. The traditional array has a variance of 0.024 which is four times larger. The optimization is conducted on the hybrid array with both layout and dimension as design variables.

The optimal control algorithm for the WEC array is developed using the optimality condition. Devices in the array are assumed to be identical heaving buoys. The optimization objective is to maximize energy extraction at each time step. Both regular and irregular waves are used to excite the array. The unconstrained optimal control problem is solved with saturation on the control force. The solutions show that good wave estimations and sufficient accuracy of the radiation sub-system are the keys to the desired WEC array performance.