Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Matthew A. Lackner

Second Advisor

Jon G. McGowan

Third Advisor

J. Gordon Leishman

Subject Categories

Industrial Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Offshore floating wind turbines represent the future of wind energy. However, significant challenges must be overcome before these systems can be widely used. Because of the dynamics of offshore floating wind turbines -- surge, sway, heave, roll, pitch, and yaw -- and the resulting interactions between the rotor and generated wake, the aerodynamic analysis methods and design codes that have found wide use throughout the wind energy industry may be inadequate. Application of these techniques to offshore floating wind turbine aerodynamics may result in off-optimal designs, effectively handicapping these next-generation systems, thereby minimizing their full potential. This dissertation will demonstrate that the aerodynamics of offshore floating wind turbines are sufficiently different from conventional offshore and onshore wind turbines, warranting the use of higher fidelity analysis approaches. It will outline the development and validation of a free vortex wake code, the Wake Induced Dynamics Simulator, or WInDS, which uses a more physically realistic Lagrangian approach to modeling complex rotor-wake interactions. Finally, results from WInDS simulations of various offshore floating wind turbines under different load conditions will be presented. The simulation results indicate that offshore floating wind turbine aerodynamics are more complex than conventional offshore or onshore wind turbines and require higher fidelity analysis approaches to model adequately. Additionally, platform pitching modes appear to drive the most aerodynamically-significant motions, followed by yawing modes. Momentum balance approaches are shown to be unable to accurately model these dynamic systems, and the associated dynamic inflow methods respond to velocity changes at the rotor incorrectly. Future offshore floating wind turbine designs should strive to either minimize platform motions or be complementarily optimized, via higher fidelity aerodynamic analysis techniques, to account for them. It is believed that this dissertation is the first in-depth study of offshore floating wind turbine aerodynamics and the applicability of various analysis methods.