Cloud-based optimisation of a multi-body wave energy device
Zyba is a British SME whose expertise is in numerical engineering, modelling wave-structure interactions, and river flows and financial risk analysis. Zyba has developed an innovative wave-energy convertor “CCell” that harnesses power from ocean waves. This experiment utilises Cloud-based HPC resources and open-source software to simulate all key aspects of the CCell, which involve foundations, a floating platform and the CCell device at near-shore locations. In addition, the experiment will support work to explore the structural design and integrity of composite materials, which will be used for the first time in a commercial renewable energy device. The outcomes of this experiment have the potential to dramatically shorten the time taken to test and deploy new design ideas for CCell and may provide the necessary information to forgo costly laboratory trials. HPC resources and expertise in this experiment were provided by Arctur.
Waves are the primary cause of erosion, yet they carry a readily accessible supply of energy. Zyba’s core product, CCell, is a curved wave energy converter designed to be efficient, light, and simple to assemble and operate. CCell moves with the waves to simultaneously extract their energy and reduce their impact on the beach, while generating electricity.
BioRock reefs are wire mesh frames that can be built in any shape or size. Secured to the seabed, they use the safe, low-voltage electrical charge from CCell, to form limestone rock from seawater minerals. These reefs provide a habitat for corals to grow at an accelerated rate, creating an active breakwater to protect shores from erosion and enhance beaches.
Optimisation of the CCell device for each site is heavily dependent on the local wave resources and bathymetry. However, modelling waves is a computationally intensive task, requiring computational simulation in excess of most SMEs' budgets. Physical testing is a potential alternative, but it is also expensive and the limited availability of facilities constrains the rate at which tests can be undertaken.
Simulations of the CCell device in different incoming wave conditions were carried out using OpenFOAM on an HPC machine. An easy-to-use GUI was developed which allows simulations to be set up quickly, with a series of scripts/tools written to streamline the workflow on the HPC system.
The increased computational power also allowed the whole CCell system to be modelled for the first time, including power-take-off hardware, software, and the intended control logic. This provided new insight into how the different pieces of the system work together.
As a result of the experiment, Zyba has been able to increase its productivity, and deploy a series of pilots offshore. The automated and streamlined design process enabled it to rapidly optimize each design, reduce design costs and development time. With the new GUI, less experienced users can now complete design tasks, which empowers individuals within the team and increases the rate of innovation. Overall the new system has enabled Zyba to significantly speed up its market entry (saving perhaps 9-12 months), and will continue to facilitate the evolution of future products and service offerings.
Provision of resources from an HPC centre transforms an imposing capital expense to a more manageable operating cost. Administrative tasks associated with IT management and upgrades are also effectively outsourced, alleviating pressure on a small SME team and reducing interruptions to design work.
- Reduced simulation set up time from 2 hours to less than 1 minute.
- Mitigated use of phyiscal modelling, providing a ninefold reduction in cost.
- Reduced HPC costs from 0,09€/core-hour to 0,05€/core-hour as all software used was open source.
- Ability to concurrently run simulations improved productivity by a factor of 7