The objective of this paper is to introduce an approach for designing wave energy converters (WECs) that can be implemented early during the conceptual design phase, enabling downstream convergence on higher performance concepts. Currently, WEC concepts span a wide design space which includes a high number of functionally dissimilar devices. The concept-agnostic assessment of WEC techno-economic performance, the Technology Performance Level (TPL) metric , provides designers with a set of customer requirements upon which devices can be assessed. Those requirements were translated to functional requirements using a systems engineering approach . Despite the framework that TPL and the functional requirements provide, WEC designers have limited guidance in approach to conceptual design. This often results in premature commitment to a single functional concept that can limit device performance, even if later-stage design optimization techniques are used . TPL has made significant strides in helping designers understand the requirements of WEC design. This work aims to guide designers toward design processes which can help them meet those requirements.
This paper proposes a Set-Based Design approach to WEC conceptual design which could enable the generation of high-performance concepts faster and with less expense. Set-Based Design is a design process in which engineers ideate a large set of potential solutions and work with critical stakeholders to ensure convergence on an optimal concept . The process was chosen specifically due to its ability to directly facilitate design decision making. We tested the design method through a design workshop in which participants were given design requirements and asked to generate WEC concepts. Though the workshop was constrained by time, number of participants, and background of participants, it was a good proof of concept for the applicability of this design methodology and provided insight on how to continue developing WEC design methodologies. SBD is a methodology that can help designers understand and design to the conflicting requirements of WEC design. SBD also allows designers to avoid making decisions based on imprecise information, which may ultimately lead to more efficient generation of high-performance concepts.