A numerical simulation of a variable-shape buoy wave energy converter
Wave energy converters (WECs) usually require reactive power for increased levels of energy conversion, resulting in the need for more complex power take-off (PTO) units, compared to WECs that do not require reactive power. A WEC without reactive power produces much less energy, though. The concept of Variable Shape Buoy Wave Energy Converters (VSB WECs) is proposed to allow continuous shape-change aiming at eliminating the need for reactive power, while converting power at a high level. The proposed concept involves complex and nonlinear interactions between the device and the waves. This paper presents a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tool that is set up to simulate VSB WECs, using the ANSYS 2-way fluid–structure interaction (FSI) tool. The dynamic behavior of a VSB WEC is simulated in this CFD-based Numerical Wave Tank (CNWT), in open sea conditions. The simulation results show that the tested device undergoes a significant deformation in response to the incoming waves, before it reaches a steady-state behavior. This is in agreement with a low-fidelity dynamic model developed in earlier work. The resulting motion is significantly different from the motion of a rigid body WEC. The difference in the motion can be leveraged for better energy capture without the need for reactive power.