Faculty Advisor

Gretar Tryggvason

Faculty Advisor

Mark Richman

Faculty Advisor

Mikhail F. Dimentberg

Faculty Advisor

Nikolaos A. Gatsonis

Faculty Advisor

David J. Olinger




The dynamic motion of floating wind turbines is studied using numerical simulations. Floating wind turbines in the deep ocean avoid many of the concerns with land-based wind turbines while allowing access to strong stable winds. The full three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations are solved on a regular structured grid, using a level set method for the free surface and an immersed boundary method for the turbine platform. The tethers, the tower, the nacelle and the rotor weight are included using reduced order dynamic models, resulting in an efficient numerical approach which can handle nearly all the nonlinear wave forces on the platform, while imposing no limitation on the platform motion. Wind is modeled as a constant thrust force and rotor gyroscopic effects are accounted for. Other aerodynamic loadings and aero-elastic effects are not considered. Several tests, including comparison with other numerical, experimental and grid study tests, have been done to validate and verify the numerical approach. Also for further validation, a 100:1 scale model Tension Leg Platform (TLP) floating wind turbine has been simulated and the results are compared with water flume experiments conducted by our research group. The model has been extended to full scale systems and the response of the tension leg and spar buoy floating wind turbines has been studied. The tension leg platform response to different amplitude waves is examined and for large waves a nonlinear trend is seen. The nonlinearity limits the motion and shows that the linear assumption will lead to over prediction of the TLP response. Studying the flow field behind the TLP for moderate amplitude waves shows vortices during the transient response of the platform but not at the steady state, probably due to the small Keulegan-Carpenter number. The effects of changing the platform shape are considered and finally the nonlinear response of the platform to a large amplitude wave leading to slacking of the tethers is simulated. For the spar buoy floating wind turbine, the response to regular periodic waves is studied first. Then, the model is extended to irregular waves to study the interaction of the buoy with more realistic sea state. The results are presented for a harsh condition, in which waves over 17 m are generated, and linear models might not be accurate enough. The results are studied in both time and frequency domain without relying on any experimental data or linear assumption. Finally a design study has been conducted on the spar buoy platform to study the effects of tethers position, tethers stiffness, and platform aspect ratio, on the response of the floating wind turbine. It is shown that higher aspect ratio platforms generally lead to lower mean pitch and surge responses, but it may also lead to nonlinear trend in standard deviation in pitch and heave, and that the tether attachment points design near the platform center of gravity generally leads to a more stable platform in comparison with attachment points near the tank top or bottom of the platform.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Wind turbine, Offshore structure, Computational Fluid Dynamics