Faculty Advisor

David J. Olinger

Faculty Advisor

Mikhail Dimentberg

Faculty Advisor

Simon Evans

Faculty Advisor

John Blandino




This research focuses on studying the feasibility of placing large wind turbines on deep-ocean platforms. Water tank studies have been conducted using the facilities at Alden Research Laboratories (ARL) on 100:1 scale Tension Leg Platform (TLP) and Spar Buoy (SB) models. Froude scaling was used for modeling the offshore wind turbine designs. Primary components of the platform turbine, tower, and cable attachments were fabricated in ABS plastic using rapid prototyping. A wireless data acquisition system was installed to prevent umbilical data cables from affecting the behavior of the platform when exposed to wave loading. In Phase I testing, Froude-scaled TLP and Spar Buoy models at a 100:1 scale were placed in a water flume and exposed to periodic waves at amplitudes ranging from 0.5 cm - 7.5 cm and frequencies ranging from 0.25 Hz - 1.5 Hz. The testing was conducted on simple tower and turbine models that only accounted for turbine weight at the nacelle. In Phase II testing, emphasis was placed on further testing of the tension leg platform as a more viable design for floating offshore wind turbines. The tension leg platform scale model was improved by adding a disc to simulate drag force incident at the top of the tower, as well as a rotor and blades to simulate the gyroscopic force due to turbine blade rotation at the top of the tower. Periodic wave motions of known amplitude and frequency were imposed on the model to study pitch, heave, roll, surge, sway motions and mooring cable tensions (in Phase II only) using accelerometers, inclinometers, capacitance wave gage, and load cells. Signal analysis and filtering techniques were used to refine the obtained data, and a Fourier analysis was conducted to study the dominant frequencies. Finally, Response Amplitude Operators (RAO's) were plotted for each data set to standardize the results and study the overall trend with respect to changes in wave amplitude and frequency. For Phase I testing, it is shown that surge motion of the platform dominates other motions for both the tension leg platform and spar buoy, and varying tether pretension has little effect on response amplitude operator values. For phase II testing, it was found that the introduction of thrust and gyroscopic forces increases sway and pitch motions as well as upstream tether forces. Coupling effects of pitch motion with roll and sway due to the presence of gyroscopic forces were also seen. The present experimental results can be used to validate the hydrodynamic kernels of linear frequency-domain models, time-domain dynamics models, and computational simulations on floating wind turbines. Numerical analysis and simulations have been conducted in a separate study at WPI. These simulations are comparable to the experimental results.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





wind turbines, wind energy, floating wind turbines, scale model, renewable energy