Simulation used to test wave technology

Simulation used to test wave technology

Developer of mathematical computer software, MathWorks, has partnered with Carnegie Wave Energy to design and build the world’s only operating wave farm using a model-based design.

MATLAP, a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualisation and numeric computer, has been paired with Simulink – a graphical environment for simulation – to enable Carnegie’s engineers to develop a model-based design to test technology for generating clean electric power from the ocean’s waves.

As part of the Perth Wave Energy Project (PWEP), Carnegie needed to demonstrate the viability of its CETO technology, which generates power from ocean swells via submerged buoys. Engineers needed to analyse loads placed on mechanical components and to estimate energy output without building a scale model of the entire system.

The team used Simulink and SimHydraulics to model the wave energy system, including hydraulic and electromechanical components, which minimised scale testing and offered critical design insights. MATLAB helped analyse and visualise simulation and test data, and also accelerated sensitivity studies.

Carnegie chief technology office Jonathan Fiévez said it wasn’t feasible in terms of time and money to build and analyse multiple physical prototypes.

“Instead, we put the effort into virtual prototyping and getting the design right in Simulink. Simulation reduces risk and fosters innovation because we can use it to quickly test novel ideas,” he said.

“As companies work on technology to help generate clean energy, they need innovative ways to prove the systems they design will work – without investing resources in building out a full scale model that may be far from final,” MathWorks energy industry manager Graham Dudgeon said.

Simulink was used to simulate a virtual prototype of the CETO 5 technology, where pumps actuated by the motion of the 11m in diameter buoys pressurise water to drive hydroelectric conversion devices, generating up to 240kW of power per unit. After analysing test result data in MATLAB to validate their models, engineers found initial tests suggest a strong correlation between the modelled and measured results.

Carnegie is currently working on CETO 6, which has a targeted power output of 1MW per buoy.