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Influence of material selection on the structural behavior of a wave energy converter

1 Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, ISEC, DEM, Coimbra, Portugal;
2 Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, ISEC, DEM, Coimbra. PortugalLAETA, IDMEC, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal

Special Issues: Ocean Energy and the Environment

In the last decades, the world energy demand has raised significantly. Concerning this fact, wave energy should be considered as a valid alternative for electricity production. Devices suitable to harness this kind of renewable energy source and convert it into electricity are not yet commercially competitive. This paper is focused on the selection and analysis of different types of elastic materials and their influence on the structural behavior of a wave energy converter (WEC). After a brief characterization of the device, a tridimensional computer aided design (3D CAD) numerical model was built and several finite element analyses (FEA) were performed through a commercial finite element code. The main components of the WEC, namely the buoy, supporting cables and hydraulic cylinder were simulated assuming different materials. The software used needs, among other parameters, the magnitude of the resultant hydrodynamic forces acting upon the floating buoy obtained from a WEC time domain simulator (TDS) which was built based on the WEC dynamic model previously developed. The Von Mises stress gradients and displacement fields determined by the FEA demonstrated that, regardless of the WEC component, the materials with low Young's modulus seems to be unsuitable for this kind of application. The same is valid for the material yield strength since materials with a higher yield strength lead to a better structural behavior of WEC components because lower stress and displacement values were obtained. The developed 3D CAD numerical model showed to be suitable to analyze different combinations of structural conditions. They could depend of different combinations of buoy position and resultant hydrodynamic forces acting upon the buoy, function of the specific sea wave parameters found on the deployment site.
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