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Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166


Overall-efficiency optimisation in OWC devices

José Perdigãoa, António Sarmentob,*
Institute for Systems, Informatics and Safety, Joint Research Centre, 21020 Ispra (VA), Italy
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisboa Codex, Portugal
Received 20 October 2001; accepted 24 September 2003

It is shown that due to power take-off losses, optimal control provides maximum energy absorption, but not maximum energy production.
A new reactive control criterion in the frequency-domain is deduced assuming constant power take-off efficiency, respectively, in the power
feeding and power absorption parts of the wave cycle. If applied in the time-domain, this criterion requires the incident wave to be predicted
some time into the future. Whilst the OWC type of Wave Energy Converters (WEC) is presented in the paper, the extension to WECs of the
floating body type is also considered. Illustrative numerical results for a two-dimensional OWC of simple geometry are presented, which
include the performance of this device in three wave spectra with increasing demands of active control for improved energy production.
Linear hydrodynamic theory is considered throughout the paper.
q 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Wave energy; Active control; Frequency-domain; OWC; Overall-efficiency; Power take-off losses; Floating devices

1. Introduction In the frequency-domain, optimal control requires, in

general, a non-zero phase-lag between the airflow and
After more than 20 years of R&D, wave energy is still not pressure difference in the turbine (the external force and the
competitive with other renewable forms of producing float velocity in the case of floating body WECs). This is
electrical energy. This is in general so, and in particular why optimal control has been referred to in the past as
applies to OWC plants, the most well studied wave energy phase-control. Thus during part of the wave cycle there is
device, of which a number of power plants have been built compression of the air flow—when the product of the air
around the world. To accomplish economic competitiveness flow and pressure difference is negative—which requires
the energy production must increase by a significant amount. energy to be supplied to the air. In the expansion phase of
This increase of energy production may result partially from the wave cycle—the product of airflow and pressure
higher incident wave energy fluxes existing in deep waters, difference is now positive—the compression-work is
more regular wave climates, or improved efficiency of the recovered, leading to maximum energy absorption. A
Wave Energy Converters (WECs) and better control similar situation occurs in floating body WECs, because
procedures. This paper addresses this last point through the force acting on the power take-off and the velocity of its
reactive control aiming at maximizing energy production. parts are not in phase.
Reactive control permits to control the amplitude and From the above it is concluded that in OWC devices a
phase of the radiated wave, thus allowing for a better special type of air-equipment has to be considered if optimal
interference with the diffracted wave for each frequency control is to be used, which can work either as a compressor
component, this leading to maximum wave energy absorp- or as a turbine. Such equipment can take the form of a
tion. The conditions to achieve maximum energy absorption variable pitch-angle turbine, such as the one proposed in
are well known for OWC devices [1] and floating bodies [2] Ref. [3]. A prototype of this turbine is now being built for
and the corresponding control is referred to as optimal the European Pilot Plant constructed at Pico Island in the
control. Azores.
The variable pitch-angle turbine, like any other power
* Corresponding author. Fax: þ 351-21-841-7398. take-off equipment for OWC or other wave energy
E-mail address: sarmento@hidro1.ist.utl.pt (A. Sarmento). devices, is not free of losses (aerodynamic and mechanical
0141-1187/$ - see front matter q 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
158 J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166

losses) to which electrical losses in the generator and amplitudes of the radiation flow and air pressure are related
other auxiliary equipment have to be added. These losses by the frequency-response function—also called radiation-
have to be added to the power delivered to the air in the impedance
compression phases and subtracted from the power
Qr ðvÞ
extracted from the air in the expansion phases. The result Hr ðvÞ ¼ : ð3Þ
is that the energy expenditure in the compression phase is PðvÞ
only partially recovered in the expansion phase. Thus, Following Ref. [1] we introduce the arbitrary, but
optimal control (deduced on the basis of isentropic power convenient, decomposition of the frequency-response func-
take-off equipment) provides maximum wave energy tion into its real (radiation resistance) and imaginary
absorption, but not maximum electrical energy production, (radiation reactance) parts
which is the ultimate goal of wave energy devices.
In the case of floating body WECs the power take-off Hr ðvÞ ¼ 2½BðvÞ þ ivCðvÞ; ð4Þ
needs to be capable of feeding and recovering energy to the where BðvÞ and CðvÞ are even real functions depending on
wave if reactive control is to be applied. Hydraulic the geometry of the device and BðvÞ is never negative [1].
machinery and linear generators are in general capable of Using Eqs. (3) and (4) in Eq. (2), the air balance equation
doing so, with little lost power. in the frequency-domain is now written as
Qt ðvÞ ¼ Qd ðvÞ 2 BðvÞ þ iv CðvÞ þ PðvÞ: ð5Þ
2. Theoretical background gpa
Note that a similar equation occurs for floating body
2.1. The equation of motion
WECs, in particular with only one degree of freedom, where
the force acting in the power take-off equipment, the
The performance of the WEC depends on some
diffraction force and the excursion of the moving part of
characteristic physical parameters, which are related through
the WEC replace the turbine flow, the diffraction flow and
the equation of the motion in the case of floating bodies and,
the pressure amplitude, respectively.
in OWC devices, through the air balance equation, which
performs a similar role. Furthermore, the performance of the
2.2. Maximum energy absorption
WEC depends on the control strategy, which relates some of
the parameters involved in the equation of motion or equation
The amount of energy absorbed from the waves by the
of continuity, depending on the type of device.
OWC device during a time interval T is given by
Let us consider a fixed bottom-standing OWC device.
The ‘applied-pressure’ analysis presented in Refs. [3,4], ðT
gives the linearised version of the continuity equation EðTÞ ¼ pðtÞqt ðtÞdt: ð6Þ
applied to the air inside the pneumatic chamber
The equivalent equation for the floating body WEC is
V0 dpðtÞ obtained by replacing the pressure and turbine flow, by the
qt ðtÞ ¼ qd ðtÞ þ qr ðtÞ 2 : ð1Þ
gpa dt velocity and force of the power take-off equipment,
respectively. Assuming that the chamber is open to the
In the above equation V0 is the undisturbed volume of the atmosphere (p ¼ 0) for t , 0 and t . T; where T is much
pneumatic chamber, g is the adiabatic constant (equal to 1.4 bigger than the representative wave period (later T ! 1
for diatomic gases), pa is the atmospheric pressure, pðtÞ is will be assumed), the limits of integration in the above
the relative internal air pressure with respect to the equation may be extended to infinity. By applying
atmospheric pressure, and qt ; qd and qr are, respectively, Parseval’s theorem to the resulting equation, Eq. (6) can
the turbine flow, the diffracted flow and the radiation flow. be written in the frequency-domain as
The diffracted flow is the flow displaced by the incident  
wave in a chamber open to the atmosphere and the radiation 1 ðþ1
EðTÞ ¼ Pð2v; TÞQt ðv; TÞdv : ð7Þ
flow is the flow displaced by the internal air pressure 2p 21
fluctuations in the absence of incident waves. From now on, whenever a real quantity is equal to a
By applying the Fourier transform to Eq. (1) the complex expression, only the real part of it is to be taken.
following equation relating the complex amplitudes of the Since the pressure is a real physical quantity (7), can be
above variables follows written as

Qt ðvÞ ¼ Qd ðvÞ þ Qr ðvÞ 2

ivPðvÞ: ð2Þ 1 ðþ1 p
gpa EðTÞ ¼ P ðv; TÞQt ðv; TÞdv; ð8Þ
2p 21
Capital letters followed by v within brackets are used where asterisk stands for the complex conjugate. Making
throughout to refer to complex amplitudes. The complex use of Eq. (5) it turns out
J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166 159

1 ðþ1 p where AðvÞ is the Fourier transform of the wave elevation, it

EðTÞ ¼ P ðv; TÞQd ðv; TÞ
2p 21 can be seen from Eqs. (10) and (11) that the amount of
   energy being lost due to imperfect control matching is given
2 BðvÞ þ iv CðvÞ þ 0 lPðv; TÞl2 dv: ð9Þ by
1 ðþ1 1 2
Taking into account the evenness of CðvÞ þ V0 ðgPa Þ21 ; DEðTÞ¼ BðvÞlHd ðvÞl2 lAðv;TÞl2 Hg ðvÞ2 dv ;
4p 21 2BðvÞ
after some algebra [1], we obtain
1 ðþ1 lQd ðv;TÞl2
Q ðv;TÞ 2 i where
EðTÞ¼ 2BðvÞ Pðv;TÞ2 d dv:
2p 21 4BðvÞ 2BðvÞ Pðv; TÞ ¼ Hg ðvÞQd ðv; TÞ; ð18Þ
has been used. Of course Hg0 ðvÞ ¼ 1=2BðvÞ is the optimal
Hence, maximum energy absorption value of Hg ðvÞ:
The time average non-absorbed power
1 ðþ1 lQd ðv; TÞl2  
E0 ðTÞ ¼ dv ; ð11Þ
2p 21 4BðvÞ DW ¼ Lim M 1 DEðTÞ ; ð19Þ
is attained when T!1 T

Qd ðv; TÞ where M represents the statistical mean operator, can be

Pðv; TÞ ¼ ; Hg0 ðvÞQd ðv; TÞ: ð12Þ computed from Eq. (17) giving
1 2
Similar results where obtained [1] for regular waves (note DW ¼ 1 BðvÞlHd ðvÞl2 Si ðvÞ Hg ðvÞ 2 dv;
that Qd ðvÞ is the double-sided Fourier transform, the reason 4p 21 2BðvÞ
why the factor 4 appears in Eq. (10) instead of 8 as in Ref. [1]. ð20Þ
The optimal condition Hg0 ðvÞ ¼ 1=2BðvÞ can be seen as a where Si ðvÞ ¼ LimT!1 M{1=TlAðv; TÞl2 } is the incident
reference control function, since it establishes, for optimal power spectrum. Applying similar arguments the maximum
conditions, a relation between a control variable, the averaged absorbed power is given by
pressure, and the input to the system, the diffraction flow.
For floating body WECs similar equations are found, where ðþ1 lH ðvÞl2 S ðvÞ
0 ¼ 1
W d i
dv: ð21Þ
BðvÞ would represent the hydrodynamic damping and, as 2p 21 4BðvÞ
before, the velocity of the WEC and the diffraction force
replace the pressure and diffraction flow, respectively. Defining the hydrodynamic-efficiency as the ratio
From Eq. (12) it turns out that the optimal values of the between the actual and maximum values of the averaged
air pressure are given by power absorbed from the waves, gives
ðþ1 hh ðvÞ ¼ 1 2 l1 2 2BðvÞHg ðvÞl2 ; ð22Þ
p0 ðtÞ ¼ qd ðtÞh0g ðtÞ ; h0g ðt 2 tÞqd ðtÞdt; ð13Þ
21 and

with 1 ðþ1 1 2
hh ¼ 1 2 0 BðvÞlHd ðvÞl2 Si ðvÞ Hg ðvÞ 2 dv;
W 21 2BðvÞ
1 ðþ1 1 ð23Þ
h0g ðtÞ ¼ eivt dv: ð14Þ
2p 21 2BðvÞ respectively, for a monochromatic wave of frequency v and
Since BðvÞ is real and positive it can easily be found that for an irregular wave with a spectrum Si ðvÞ:
h0g ðtÞ is an even function  given by Eq. (20) is the function to
It is obvious that DW
be minimized in any control procedure attempting to
1 ðþ1 cosðvtÞ optimize the absorption of energy. A similar equation
h0g ðtÞ ¼ dv ¼ h0g ð2tÞ; ð15Þ
p 0 2BðvÞ would be obtained for a WEC floating body, with Hd ðvÞ ¼
so that p0 ðtÞ can only be computed if qd ðtÞ is known, Fd ðvÞ=AðvÞ being now the transfer function between the
theoretically, from t ¼ 21 to t ¼ þ1: Similar results are complex amplitude of the diffraction force Fd ðvÞ and AðvÞ;
obtained for floating body WECs. the Fourier transform of the incident wave, as before, BðvÞ
the damping coefficient and Hg ðvÞ ¼ VðvÞ=Fd ðvÞ; where
2.3. Hydrodynamic-efficiency VðvÞ is the complex amplitude of the floating body velocity.

By defining the transfer function of the diffraction 2.4. Ratio of compression-work to pneumatic-net-work
An important consequence of the optimal relation (12) is
Hd ðvÞ ¼ Qd ðvÞ=AðvÞ; ð16Þ that, in general, the turbine flow is not in phase with the air
160 J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166

pressure. Using Eqs. (5) and (12) we have 3. Maximum energy production
V As pointed out earlier, the observance of optimal phase
Qt ðvÞ ¼ BðvÞ 2 iv CðvÞ þ 0 PðvÞ; ð24Þ
gpa condition implies that, in WECs of the OWC type, the
turbine is required to work as a compressor during certain
from which the phase-lag between turbine flow and air parts of the working cycle. Consequently, the shaft-power
pressure for optimal conditions delivered by a real turbine is twice reduced: (i) during the
   compression-phase turbine losses must be added to the
v V shaft-power required to keep the machine rotating, and (ii)
u0 ðvÞ ¼ tan21 2 CðvÞ þ 0 : ð25Þ
BðvÞ gpa during the expansion phase turbine losses must be
subtracted from the power extracted from the waves.
This phase-lag means that during part of the wave cycle, If the compression-work is significant when compared
when the product of the flow and air pressure is negative, to the pneumatic-net-work, then turbine losses—viscous
energy is being delivered to the air (compression phase). and mechanical—may lead to unacceptably low values of
This energy is later recovered (in the expansion phase), the overall-efficiency. Our optimal condition must, there-
when this product is positive. fore, be modified in order to take into account this issue.
For the case of a monochromatic wave with a given In this section we present the analytical formulation of
frequency v; the ratio GðvÞ of the compression-work a new optimal relation aiming the overall-efficiency
(delivered to the air) to pneumatic-net-work, has been maximization. The formulation will be done in the
shown by in Ref. [4] to be given by frequency-domain.
The extension of the above reasoning to floating body
1 WECs is obvious. The compression phase corresponds to
GðvÞ ¼ ltanðuðvÞÞ 2 uðvÞl; ð26Þ
p the energy supplying phase and the expansion phase to the
energy absorption phase. This note must be taken into
which shows that this ratio increases significantly with u: account to generalize what is presented in the following
In the case of irregular waves, to estimate the ratio G sections.
between the compression-work and the pneumatic-net-
work, we will assume the following hypothesis: the total 3.1. Turbine-cycle efficiency
compression-work over a working cycle equals the sum of
the compression-works associated to each single harmonic A variable pitch-angle turbine is a Wells turbine that is
of the wave-power spectrum. Using this definition and capable of changing the pitch-angle of the blades while
taking into account Eqs. (20) and (21), G is estimated by rotating. Within limits defined by the occurrence of
aerodynamic stall and maximum value of the pitch-angle,
1 ð1 lHd ðvÞl2 Si ðvÞ h i and depending on the rotational speed, this type of turbine
12l2BðvÞHg ðvÞ21l2 GðvÞdv
2p 0 8BðvÞ can operate in any point of the pressure versus flow-rate
Gø ;
 0 2DW plane. Different aerodynamic efficiencies are expected for
ð27Þ each point of this plane and instantaneous rotational speed
of the turbine.
where GðvÞ is given by Eq. (26), DW  by Eq. (19) and W  0 by Let ht ðpðtÞ; qt ðtÞÞ designate the ‘instantaneous’ turbine
Eq. (20). According to Eq. (27), G is estimated by averaging efficiency for every point on the pressure versus turbine-
GðvÞ weighted with the wave-absorbed energy (pneumatic- flow plane. The useful time-averaged shaft-power (‘useful
net energy) associated to each single harmonic. In power’) over a time interval T can be written as
conformity with this approximation, we ignore cross- ðT
 u ðTÞ ¼ 1
sgnðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞ
interactions between adjacent harmonics. Therefore, for W pðtÞqt ðtÞht ðpðtÞ; qt ðtÞÞ dt; ð28Þ
each single harmonic the amount of compression-work is T 0
simply given by the product of GðvÞ by the pneumatic-net where sgnðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞ designates the sign function (equal to
energy within an infinitesimal interval centered at that unity for positive arguments and to minus unity for negative
specific frequency. arguments).
This section applies also for floating body WECs, since Introducing the step function u (equal to unity for
in general there will be also a phase-lag uðvÞ between the positive or zero arguments and to zero for negative
force acting on and velocity of the power take-off arguments) into Eq. (28) results in
equipment, meaning that in some phases of the wave
cycle energy is being fed into the water and later recovered,  u ðTÞ ¼ 1
W pðtÞqt ðtÞ½uðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞ
at least partially. Eqs. (26) and (27) still apply for floating T 0
body WECs with the obvious changes in the meaning of the
variables. þ uð2pðtÞqt ðtÞÞht ðpðtÞ; qt ðtÞÞsgnðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞ dt; ð29Þ
J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166 161

which can be decomposed as The global efficiency is defined as

ðT u
 u ðTÞ ¼ 1
W pðtÞqt ðtÞuðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞht ðpðtÞ; qt ðtÞÞdt h¼ ¼ hh hc ; ð38Þ
T 0
where hh is the average hydrodynamic-efficiency defined by
1 ðT
þ pðtÞqt ðtÞuð2pðtÞqt ðtÞÞht ðpðtÞ; qt ðtÞÞ21 dt: Eq. (22) and
T 0  
ð30Þ 1
hc ¼ ht 2 G C 2 ht ;
We now simplify the problem by assuming that the
turbine efficiency is constant in the expansion and the average ‘turbine-cycle’ efficiency, which takes into
compression phases, having eventually different values in account turbine losses (both aerodynamic and mechanical)
these two phases. Let hEt and hCt ; respectively, represent the in the expansion and compression parts of the working
turbine efficiency in the expansion and compression phases. cycle. In Eq. (39) G is given by Eq. (26) for monochromatic
Then the useful average shaft-power will be given by waves and Eq. (27) for irregular waves.
The ‘turbine-cycle’ efficiency is a mathematical abstrac-
tion. It synthesizes into one single value the role of three
 u ðTÞ ¼ W
W  Ct ðTÞ 1 :
 Et ðTÞhEt 2 W ð31Þ
hCt variables directly related to the effectiveness of the working
cycle: hEt ; hCt and G: From Eq. (39) we verify that the
 Et ðTÞ is the time-averaged expansion-power
In Eq. (30), W ‘turbine-cycle’ efficiency hc increases both with hEt and hCt
available to the turbine (i.e. the power being absorbed from and decreases for higher values of G: Understandably, hCt
the water) and W  Ct ðTÞ the time-averaged compression- only influences the ‘turbine-cycle’ efficiency if the amount
power required from the turbine (i.e. the power being of compression-work is not null (G – 0). For the particular
supplied to the water), respectively, given by case of null compression-work, the ‘turbine-cycle’ effi-
ðT ciency reduces to the usual definition of turbine efficiency.
 Et ðTÞ ¼ 1
W pðtÞqt ðtÞuðpðtÞqt ðtÞÞdt; ð32Þ Furthermore, we observe that the term associated with the
T 0
compression-work—the second factor of the right member
and of Eq. (39)—contains both hEt and hCt : This fact is easily
explained given the energy round-trip associated with the
 Ct ðTÞ ¼ 2 1
W pðtÞqt ðtÞuð2pðtÞqt ðtÞÞdt: ð33Þ reactive power: energy is delivered to the system at a ‘cost’
T 0 given by hCt ; and then partially recovered it later on, with a
further ‘cost’ given by hEt :
We now extend the time interval to infinity in Eqs. (31)
 Et ðTÞ and W  Ct ðTÞ converge to their In summary: Eq. (37) is the objective function of the
and (32), so that W
 Ct : Assuming
 Et and W overall-efficiency optimisation process relative to a non-
ensemble average, respectively, W
isentropic-turbine. When handling it, we are faced with the
that there are no pneumatic losses, the energy extracted
 0 2 DWÞ  is completely available to the problem of evaluating the averaged efficiencies hEt and hCt
from the waves ðW
 E  C  0 2 DW:  Recalling that G; as well as the ratio G between the compression-work and the
turbine and so Wt 2 Wt ¼ W
pneumatic-net-work available to turbine.
given by Eq. (26) for monochromatic waves and Eq. (27)
The content of this section is, as before, applicable to
for irregular waves, is the ratio between the compression-
floating body WECs with the proper adaptations. The
work and the pneumatic-net-work (i.e. the power available
compression-work corresponds to the energy supplied to the
to turbine)
water and the expansion work to the energy absorbed from
W the water, the compression and expansion efficiencies have
G¼ ; ð34Þ their obvious counterpart and, again, the flows are
W 2 DW 
equivalent to forces and the pressures to velocities.
the average compression and expansion works may be
expressed, respectively, as 3.2. Phase-lag reduction
W 0 
¼ GðW 2 DWÞ; ð35Þ
From Eq. (37) we observe that to maximize the time-
and averaged useful-power W  u we need to minimize both DW 
and G: Clearly, it is not possible to cancel DW  without
 Et ¼ ð1 þ GÞðW
W  0 2 DWÞ:
 ð36Þ compromising G; and vice-versa.
Introducing the last two equations into Eq. (31), it turns As illustrated by the numerical results of next section,
out that to increase the overall-efficiency we need to reduce the
   amount of compression-work. This implies a reduction of
W u ¼ ðW  hEt 2 G 1 2 hEt :
 0 2 DWÞ ð37Þ G; which in turn means a reduction of the phase difference
hCt u between the pressure and the turbine-flow, see Eq. (26).
162 J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166

The approach to accomplish this goal will be called 1
‘phase-lag reduction’ technique. tan uðvÞ¼ 2BðvÞMr ðvÞsin zðvÞ
BðvÞ½12Mr2 ðvÞ
We will now focus on the problem of developing this
" # )
sub-optimal control law. The idea is to find out a relation V0
between the pressure and the diffraction flow that 2v CðvÞþ ½1þ2Mr ðvÞcos zðvÞþMr ðvÞ :
maximizes the overall-efficiency rather than just the
hydrodynamic one. To do that we use the ‘ideal non- ð44Þ
causal optimal relation’ 1=ð2BðvÞÞ and then ‘relax’ it by The optimal phase-lag z0 ðvÞ is the one to which
introducing a corrective complex term: Hgc ðvÞ: That is, let corresponds a minimum absolute value of the phase-lag
the pressure and the diffracted flow be related, in the uðvÞ between turbine flow and pressure drop. This point is a
frequency-domain, by point of stationarity of uðvÞ with respect to zðvÞ lying in the
h i   second or third quadrant
PðvÞ ¼ Hg0 ðvÞ þ Hgc ðvÞ Qd ðvÞ ¼ þ Hgc ðvÞ Qd ðvÞ;
2BðvÞ BðvÞ
tanðz0 ðvÞÞ ¼  ; ð45Þ
ð40Þ V0
v CðvÞ þ
from which we observe that the optimal phase-lag between
Hgc ðvÞ ¼ 2BðvÞMr ðvÞe izðvÞ
: ð41Þ pressure and turbine-flow is independent of Mr ðvÞ: Note that
z0 ðvÞ depends only on the geometry of the chamber. Thus, it
Note that so far no restrictions have been put on Hgc ðvÞ; is independent of the mechanical performance of the turbine
by changing its modulus Mr ðvÞ and phase zðvÞ; this and sea-state conditions. We will now proceed with the
complex vector function can cover the whole complex optimisation process by finding out the best Mr ðvÞ given the
plane, and thus Eq. (40) is still a completely general relation. optimal z0 ðvÞ:
In order to reduce the problem to a single optimisation
variable we need to relate somehow the modulus and phase 3.3. Modulus reduction
of Hgc ðvÞ: In other words, we need to breakdown the
optimisation process into phase and modulus optimisation Let us start by analyzing how the optimisation variable
variables, separately. Mr ðvÞ influences the hydrodynamic-efficiency.
From Eq. (23) we deduce that the circles in the complex From Eqs. (10), (11) and (40), it turns out that
plane defined by hh ðvÞ ¼ 1 2 Mr2 ðvÞ; ð46Þ

Hg ðvÞ 2 1 ¼ K ¼ cte ; ð42Þ i.e the hydrodynamic-efficiency decreases with the square of
2BðvÞ the modulus-reduction factor.
Using Eqs. (26), (38) and (39), as well as the optimal
are curves of equal hydrodynamic-efficiency. On the other phase-lag z0 ðvÞ given by Eq. (45), the overall-efficiency for
hand, the turbine-cycle efficiency indirectly depends on the a wave frequency is computed as a function of Mr ðvÞ; giving
phase u—see Eqs. (26), (27) and (39)—which in turn is a
function of both modulus and phase of Hgc ðvÞ as seen from h ¼ ð1 2 Mr2 ðvÞÞ
Eq. (5).   
We now proceed by relaxing the hydrodynamic- ltanðuðvÞÞ 2 uðvÞl 1
 hE 2 2 h E
; ð47Þ
efficiency by admitting, for each frequency, a certain p hC
deviation given by Eq. (42), the question will be to know
where as before, uðvÞ ¼ arg½Hbc ðvÞ is the phase-lag
what is the value of the phase-correction term eizv that
between the turbine flow and pressure drop and is given
maximizes the turbine-cycle efficiency.
by Eq. (44).
To answer this question let us look in more detail at the
The optimal value of Mr ðvÞ; denoted by Mr0 ðvÞ; is the one
air-mass balance equation. From Eq. (5), and using Eq. (40)
that maximizes the overall-efficiency, and the optimal
to replace Qd ðvÞ; it follows
reactive-control relation for the non-isentropic variable
pitch-angle turbine is
Qt ðvÞ ¼ Hbc ðvÞPðvÞ 0
ðv Þ
   PðvÞ 1 þ Mr0 ðvÞeiz
2BðvÞ V0 H g ðv Þ ; ¼
¼ 2 Bð vÞ 2 i v Cðv Þ þ PðvÞ: Qd ðvÞ 2BðvÞ
1 þ Mr eizðvÞ gpa
ðv Þ
ð43Þ ¼ Hg0 ðvÞ½1 þ Mr0 ðvÞeiz ; ð48Þ
From Eq. (43) the phase-lag between the turbine flow and where Hg0 ðvÞ ¼ ð2BðvÞÞ21 is the optimal relation deduced
pressure drop, uðvÞ ¼ arg½Hbc ðvÞ turns out to be given by for an isentropic-turbine, as seen in Eq. (17).
J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166 163

Note that no constraints—causality, stability or other— the resonant-frequency of the device v < 1:4 rad/s—the
were imposed in deducing Eq. (48). As such, this new absolute value of the optimal z0 increases because small
optimal relation should be faced as an objective function to corrections are needed (and so tan(z0 ) becomes small).
be fulfilled as much as possible by a real control strategy. Similarly, using Eq. (47) together with Eqs. (49) and
The design of causal and stable control strategies aiming the (50), the corresponding optimal value of Mr0 ðvÞ is
fulfillment of Eq. (48) is the objective of future computed as the one that leads to higher overall
developments. frequency. Fig. 1 also shows the optimal values Mr0 ðvÞ
for the geometry under consideration assuming two pair of
turbine efficiencies for the expansion and compression
4. Results for a two-dimensional geometry phases: hE ¼ 0:7; hC ¼ 0:6 (full thick line) and hE ¼ 0:5;
hC ¼ 0:4 (full thin line). We verify that in order to
For the sake of illustration, we will now concentrate on a increase up to a reasonable level the overall-efficiency,
two-dimensional chamber with a rectangular planar form significant values of Mr are needed away from the
(10 m £ 10 m), with a negligible depth-submerged thin resonant-frequency v < 1:4 rad/s, the increase being
front-wall and with the back wall (20 m height) spanning much more pronounced in the high frequency range, as
vertically the whole water depth (h ¼ 10 m). for a wave frequency of about 2.48 rad/s a standing
For this kind of geometry [4] presents analytical
wave inside the air chamber is formed displacing no
expressions for the coefficients BðvÞ and CðvÞ
diffraction flow.
2mv sin2 ðakÞ As less efficient turbines are considered, the optimal
BðvÞ ¼ b; ð49Þ
rgk values of Mr0 ðvÞ increase (for an isentropic-turbine it
would be zero for any frequency). This has a direct
2b ðþ1 sin2 ðaxÞ dx
CðvÞ ¼ 2 2
; ð50Þ consequence on the optimal ratio of compression-work to
pr 0 v cothðxhÞ 2 gx x pneumatic-net-work, G; as shown in the broken lines of
where a and b are, respectively, the length and width Fig. 2. The lower of these curves (G54 ) concerns a hE ¼
(measured along the row) of the air chamber; h the constant 0:5; hC ¼ 0:4 efficiency turbine, whereas the highest
water depth, g the acceleration of gravity and r the water corresponds to a hE ¼ 0:7; hC ¼ 0:6 turbine (G76 ). Less
density; kðvÞ is the incident wave number related to the efficient turbines require smaller ratios of compression-
wave frequency v by the dispersion-relation work to achieve higher overall-efficiencies as seen by Eqs.
(38) and (39). However, a bit surprisingly, using at the
v2 ¼ gk tanhðkhÞ; ð51Þ
control level a curve of Mr0 ðvÞ that is not the proper one
and m is an auxiliary variable defined by does not affect critically the overall-efficiency. As shown
" #21 in the full lines of Fig. 2 for a hE ¼ 0:7; hC ¼ 0:6 turbine,
v2 the overall-efficiency reduces only slightly when, instead
m¼ 1þ 2
h cosech ðkhÞ : ð52Þ
g of using the Mr0 ðvÞ and G curves for this turbine, the
From Eq. (45), with the help of Eqs. (49) and (50), we curves of Mr0 ðvÞ and G computed for the significantly less
evaluate the optimal phase-lag z0 ðvÞ for the efficient turbine (hE ¼ 0:5; hC ¼ 0:4) are used. This is
frequency range of interest. Fig. 1 depicts the results.
As expected, for increasing frequencies—approaching

Fig. 2. Overall-efficiency (h)—full lines—and ratio of compression-work

(G)—broken lines—versus wave frequency v: The thick broken line (G76 )
gives the ratio of compression-work for a turbine with hE ¼ 0:7 and hC ¼
0:6; whereas the thin broken line to a less efficient turbine (hE ¼ 0:5 and
Fig. 1. Optimal phase-lag (z0 )—broken line—and modulus (Mr0 ) versus hC ¼ 0:4). The two efficiency curves refer to a turbine with hE ¼ 0:7 and
frequency v: The thick line of Mr0 corresponds to turbine efficiencies of 0.7 hC ¼ 0:6; but in two different situations: with the proper ratio of
and 0.6, respectively, in the expansion and compression phases, whereas the compression-work (G76 )—thick full line—and with the ratio of com-
thin line to efficiencies, respectively, of 0.5 and 0.4. pression-work for the less efficient turbine—thin full line.
164 J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166

because as Mr0 ðvÞ increases the hydrodynamic-efficiency

decreases (see Eq. (37)) but the cycle efficiency increases
(as G is reduced, see Eq. (39)).
The conclusion that the average turbine efficiency in the
expansion and compression phases does not affect seriously
the computation of the control parameters is rather
important, since it is somewhat difficult to specify before-
hand their proper values.
It is interesting to compare the overall-efficiency
achieved by the phase and modulus reduction technique
with what would be achieved with a classical fixed zero
pitch-angle Wells turbine. For such a turbine it is
Qt ðvÞ ¼ KPðvÞ; ð53Þ Fig. 4. Overall-efficiency (h) versus wave frequency v for a 0.7 efficiency
Wells turbine in three different cases: (a) optimal turbine coefficient
where K is a real constant depending on the turbine adjusted as a function of the wave frequency—full thick line; (b) turbine
rotational speed, assumed to be constant in the paper. Note coefficient Kt ¼ 0:01 m3(s Pa)21—full thin line; (c) turbine coefficient
that in this case there is no compression-work (G ¼ 0), since Kt ¼ 0:015 m3(s Pa)21—broken line.
the airflow and pressure drop in the turbine are always in
phase. speed, which is not very effective in irregular waves and can
From Eq. (5), together with Eqs. (18) and (53), it be done only within limits). It can be seen that for a 10 s
turns out wave period (v < 0:628 rad/s) the optimal value of K is
  21 close to 0.0074 m3(s Pa)21, a value close to the one of the
Hg ðvÞ ¼ ðK þ BðvÞÞ þ iv CðvÞ þ : ð54Þ Pico plant.
Fig. 4 compares the overall-efficiency of a 0.7 efficient
Using Eqs. (22) and (54) and noting that h ¼ hh hEt ; since Wells turbine in three cases: (i) optimal turbine constant
G ¼ 0; an expression for the overall-efficiency h is obtained. K 0 for each frequency; (ii) K ¼ 0:01 m3(s Pa)21 and (iii)
Deriving this expression in order to K and equalizing to zero K ¼ 0:015 m3(s Pa)21. As mentioned before in an irre-
allows to compute the optimal value of the turbine gular wave it is not possible to have K adjusted for each
coefficient K 0 ; resulting in wave frequency, so the efficiency curve for this case is not
  realistic for real waves. The value K ¼ 0:01 m3(s Pa)21
V0 2
0 2
K ¼ B ðvÞ þ v CðvÞ þ 2 ; ð55Þ provides an efficiency curve that is close to the reference
gPa curve of case (i) for a wide frequency range and so will
to which corresponds the maximum overall-efficiency be used to compare the OWC response when active
control is used.
2 Fig. 5 compares the overall-efficiency in three
h0 ¼ hEt  :
v V0 2 situations: (i) optimal reactive-control with the phase
1þ 1þ 2 CðvÞ þ
B ðvÞ gPa
Fig. 3 gives the optimal value of K versus wave
frequency. It shall be noted that a fixed blade pitch-angle
Wells turbine cannot adapt the turbine constant K to
the wave frequency (except by changing the rotational

Fig. 5. Overall-efficiency (h) versus wave frequency v for three different

cases: (a) proposed control strategy with Mr0 and z0 adjusted to the wave
frequency—full thick line; (b) optimal active control without accounting
for turbine losses at control stage (i.e. with Mr0 ¼ z0 ¼ 0)—full thin line;
Fig. 3. Optimal Wells turbine coefficient versus wave frequency v: (c) Wells turbine with Kt ¼ 0:01 m3(s Pa)21—broken line.
J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166 165

and modulus reduction method (i.e. with zðvÞ ¼ z0 ðvÞ and Table 2
Mr ðvÞ ¼ Mr0 ðvÞ); (ii) optimal reactive-control without Numerical results obtained for three sea-state conditions, after the
application of the phase-lag reduction (all values in %)
taking into account turbine losses at the control level
(i.e. with zðvÞ ¼ Mr ðvÞ ¼ 0Þ; (iii) classical zero pitch- After phase-lag reduction
angle Wells turbine with K ¼ 0:01 m3(s Pa)21.
We will now illustrate the performance of the OWC for Sea-state G hh hc h ¼ hh hc hWT ¼ hh hEt
three irregular waves—labeled A, B and C—described by
A 5.9 89.7 64.2 57.6 42.1
Pierson-Moskowitz energy spectra with zero-crossing B 6.5 84.7 63.7 53.9 35.7
periods of, respectively, 8, 10 and 12 s. Because the C 7.3 80.0 62.9 50.4 31.1
resonant period of this geometry is 5.5 s, all three state
Comparison with the classical Wells turbine case (last column).
conditions are off-resonance for this particular device.
Furthermore, given the assumed linear nature of our model,
the significant wave-heights of the incident wave fields are The benefits resulting from the application of the phase-
totally irrelevant for this study. The average turbine lag reduction technique are evident when comparing Tables 1
efficiency in the expansion and compression phases are, and 2. It can be observed that the phase-lag reduction imposes
respectively, 0.7 and 0.6 as before. smaller compression-work, which leads to satisfactory
Table 1 presents the numerical results obtained for the overall-efficiencies at the cost of only limited reduction of
case study without applying the phase-lag reduction, or wave energy capture. This conclusion agrees with the results
in different words, the results obtained following an obtained [3] who followed an approach based on numerical
exclusively hydrodynamic-oriented approach. The figures optimisation in the time-domain for prescribed time-series.
presented refer to the compression-power to pneumatic- In the last column of Table 2 the overall-efficiency for a
net-power ratio G; the hydrodynamic-efficiency hh ; the Wells turbine with an aerodynamic efficiency of hEt ¼ 0:7 is
turbine-cycle efficiency hc ; and the overall-efficiency h for shown for comparison. In these simulations K has been
the three irregular wave conditions under study. chosen for each wave spectra in order to maximize the
As we see from the last column of this table, the overall-efficiency.
overall-efficiency is drastically reduced due to the
mechanical and aerodynamic losses of the non-isentro-
pic-turbine. Sea-state C presents itself as a limiting case 5. Conclusions
beyond which the balance between the turbine expansion
and compression-work starts to be negative. We conclude The use of Wells turbines with variable pitch-rotor-
that there is no point in seeking for optimal hydrodyn- blades appears to be a promising way of improving the
amic-efficiencies, because these can only be achieved at performance of OWC devices. Nonetheless, the control of
the cost of high ratios of compression-power to this equipment must take into account the aerodynamic
pneumatic-net power, which lead to poor turbine-cycle- (plus mechanical) losses. Indeed, optimal conditions for
efficiencies and thus poor overall-efficiencies. maximum hydrodynamic-efficiency can diverge signifi-
Thus, in general, optimal conditions derived for an cantly from optimal conditions for overall-efficiency
isentropic-turbine case are inadequate when using a real maximization. In other words, control strategies derived
(non-isentropic) turbine. It is, therefore, of primary for an isentropic-turbine case are most probably inadequate
importance to reduce the ratio of the compression-work G when using a non-isentropic-turbine.
due to its effect on the turbine-cycle efficiency, see Eq. (39). To cope with the turbine losses new phase and amplitude
To put it differently, it is necessary to follow an overall- conditions have been developed in the frequency-domain.
efficiency oriented approach. Table 2 presents the numerical This was done assuming constant turbine efficiencies—
results after the application of the phase-lag technique during the expansion and compression phases—and a linear
described in Section 3.3. approach to the problem. It was shown that a significant
reduction in the amount of compression-work is needed
(when comparing to the value given by optimal control) in
Table 1 order to increase the overall-efficiency. The reduction of
Numerical results obtained for three sea-state conditions, before the compression-work can be achieved by means of the so-
application of the phase-lag reduction (all values are in %) called phase-lag reduction technique.
It was found that the guess of the average turbine
Before phase-lag reduction
efficiency at the expansion and compression phases required
Sea-state G hh hc h ¼ hh hc to compute the control parameters do not affect critically the
overall-efficiency, which is much more affected by the actual
A 39.9 100.0 31.4 31.4 efficiencies in these two phases of the turbine working cycle.
B 52.4 100.0 19.4 19.4
For the three sea-state conditions and geometry under
C 71.7 100.0 0.6 0.6
study, the application of a phase-lag reduction leads to
166 J. Perdigão, A. Sarmento / Applied Ocean Research 25 (2003) 157–166

satisfactory overall-efficiencies at the cost of only limited References

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