The vision of large-scale commercial arrays of floating marine energy converters (MECs) necessitates the robust, yet cost-effective engineering of devices. Given the continuous environmental loading, fatigue has been identified as one of the key engineering challenges. In particular the mooring system which warrants the station-keeping of such devices is subject to highly cyclic, non-linear load conditions, mainly induced by the incident waves.
To ensure the integrity of the mooring system the lifecycle fatigue spectrum must be predicted in order to compare the expected fatigue damage against the design limits. The fatigue design of components is commonly assessed through numerical modelling of representative load cases. However, for new applications such as floating marine energy converters numerical models are often scantily validated.
This paper describes an approach where load measurements from large-scale field trials at the South West Mooring Testing Facility (SWMTF) are used to calculate and predict the fatigue damage. The described procedure employs a Rainflow cycle analysis in conjunction with the Pålmgrene-Miner rule to estimate the accumulated damage for the deployment periods and individual sea states.
This approach allows an accurate fatigue assessment and prediction of mooring lines at a design stage, where field trial load measurements and wave climate information of potential installation sites are available. The mooring design can thus be optimised regarding its fatigue life and costly safety factors can be reduced. The proposed method also assists in monitoring and assessing the fatigue life during deployment periods.