Wave energy converters (WECs) are commonly designed and analyzed using numerical models that combine multibody dynamics with hydrodynamic models based on the Cummins equation and linearized hydrodynamic coefficients. These modeling methods are attractive design tools because they are computationally inexpensive and do not require the use of high-performance computing resources necessitated by high-fidelity methods, such as Navier-Stokes computational fluid dynamics. Modeling hydrodynamics using linear coefficients assumes that the device undergoes small motions and that the wetted surface area of the devices is approximately constant. WEC devices, however, are typically designed to undergo large motions to maximize power extraction, calling into question the validity of assuming that linear hydrodynamic models accurately capture the relevant fluid-structure interactions.
In this paper, we study how calculating buoyancy and Froude-Krylov forces from the instantaneous position of a WEC device changes WEC simulation results compared to simulations that use linear hydrodynamic coefficients. First, we describe the WEC-Sim tool used to perform simulations and how the ability to model instantaneous forces was incorporated into WEC-Sim. We then use a simplified one-body WEC device to validate the model and to demonstrate how accounting for these instantaneously calculated forces affects the accuracy of simulation results, such as device motions, hydrodynamic forces, and power generation.
Other aspects of WEC-Sim code development and verification are presented in a companion paper  that is also being presented at OMAE2014.