Small scale testing in controlled environments is a key stage in the development of potential wave energy conversion technology. Furthermore, it is well known that the physical design and operational quality of the power-take off (PTO) used on the small scale model can have vast effects on the tank testing results. Passive mechanical elements such as friction brakes and air dampers or oil filled dashpots are fraught with nonlinear behaviors such as static friction, temperature dependency, and backlash, the effects of which propagate into the wave energy converter (WEC) power production data, causing very high uncertainty in the extrapolation of the tank test results to the meaningful full ocean scale. The lack of quality in PTO simulators is an identified barrier to the development of WECs worldwide. A solution to this problem is to use actively controlled actuators for PTO simulation on small scale model wave energy converters. This can be done using force (or torque)-controlled feedback systems with suitable instrumentation, enabling the PTO to exert any desired time and/or state dependent reaction force. In this paper, two working experimental PTO simulators on two different wave energy converters are described. The first implementation is on a 1:25 scale self-reacting point absorber wave energy converter with optimum reactive control. The real-time control system, described in detail, is implemented in LabVIEW. The second implementation is on a 1:20 scale single body point absorber under model-predictive control, implemented with a real-time controller in MATLAB/Simulink. Details on the physical hardware, software, and feedback control methods, as well as results, are described for each PTO. Lastly, both sets of real-time control code are to be web-hosted, free for download, modified and used by other researchers and WEC developers.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering