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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Our oceans contain tremendous resource potential in the form of mechanical energy. With the ability to capture and convert the energy carried in surface waves into usable electricity, wave energy converters (WECs) have been a long-held aspiration in ocean renewable energy. One of the most popular wave energy design concepts is the Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Converter (OSWEC). True to their namesake, OSWECs extract energy from the surge force induced by incident waves. In their most basic form, OSWECs are analogous to a bottom-hinged paddle which pitches fore and aft in the direction of wave motion. Most commonly, OSWECs are designed for nearshore use in water depths of less than 20 m where they are mounted to the seafloor at their point of rotation. This work seeks to explore the response and design loads of foundation raised OSWECs for use in deeper waters, unlocking new and greater areas of wave energy resource.

A foundation raised OSWEC was designed, built, and tested in a laboratory wave tank. The scale OSWEC was modeled using two methods and compared to data from the experiments. The first of these methods is a highly efficient, analytical approach which derives from the solution to the boundary value problem transformed into elliptical coordinates. Previous validation results demonstrate the analytical model is capable of reproducing results from higher fidelity numerical simulations with computation times on the order of seconds. The second approach combines hydrodynamic coefficients evaluated in WAMIT with the open-source time domain solver WEC-Sim.

Two model configurations were observed: the scale OSWEC with no external attachments, and the OSWEC with external torsion springs, as to excite the model at its natural period. The pitch displacement, surge and heave forces, and pitch moment were recorded at the base of the model foundation in response to regular waves with periods ranging from 0.8 s to 2.8 s and heights from 1.5 mm to 14.3 mm. The experimental results show the surge force and pitch moment increase drastically across the observed period range from the addition of external springs. The increase is 20–30 times greater in the most extreme cases. Little to no change in heave forcing was observed between the configurations. The analytical and numerical models capture the natural period of the two configurations well, but the pitch displacement responses of both models fall short of the observations by as much as 60-80% at some periods. Excellent agreement in surge, heave, and pitch loading was obtained between the experimental data and both models. The models were used to simulate a simple power takeoff (PTO) system to approximate the additional PTO torque on the OSWEC. This torque was found to be substantial in magnitude relative to the pitch foundation moment over much of the observed period range.


First Advisor

Krish Thiagarajan Sharman

Second Advisor

Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi

Third Advisor

Don DeGroot

Fourth Advisor

Nathan Tom

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.