Optimization of Reaction Plates for Wave Energy Conversion

Monday, 15 December 2014
Adam Christopher Brown, Applied Physics Laboratory University of Washington, Kenmore, WA, United States
Reaction forces are generated as energy is extracted from the motion of ocean waves relative to a wave energy converter (WEC). The reaction forces effect the momentum of the WEC, and in most cases it is beneficial to transfer the loads to a relatively stationary external body. It has become common for WECs to include reaction plates that use hydrodynamic damping to transfer the loads developed during energy extraction to the relatively stationary water below the surface of the ocean. Reaction plates allow WECs to use compliant moorings, which reduce mooring loads and are more easily deployed than taut moorings. Heave plates are commonly used on offshore platforms, but the design of reaction plates for wave energy converters has received little attention. This work presents an initial optimization of reaction plate form to improve the heave and surge performance of the WEC reference models developed for the US Department of Energy. The benefits and drawbacks of various reaction plate geometries are compared, and the impacts on WEC stability, peak loading, and energy production are considered.