Research Papers: Energy Systems Analysis

Dynamic Model of a Vortex-Induced Energy Converter

[+] Author and Article Information
Giampaolo Manfrida

Fellow ASME
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale,
Università degli Studi di Firenze,
Viale G.B. Morgagni 40,
Firenze I50134, Italy
e-mail: giampaolo.manfrida@unifi.it

Mirko Rinchi

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale,
Università degli Studi di Firenze,
Viale G.B. Morgagni 40,
Firenze I50134, Italy
e-mail: mirko.rinchi@unifi.it

Guido Soldi

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Industriale,
Università degli Studi di Firenze,
Viale G.B. Morgagni 40,
Firenze I50134, Italy
e-mail: guido.soldi@stud.unifi.it

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received October 16, 2015; final manuscript received April 21, 2016; published online June 14, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Na Zhang.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 138(6), 062002 (Jun 14, 2016) (7 pages) Paper No: JERT-15-1388; doi: 10.1115/1.4033587 History: Received October 16, 2015; Revised April 21, 2016

Vortex-induced energy converters (VIECs) are attracting the attention of researchers looking for energy-harvesting systems in the marine environment. These energy converters, while probably less efficient than many other specialized devices, have very few moving parts and are particularly suitable for operation in harsh environments, such as those encountered in the ocean and in offshore platforms. The principle of operation of VIECs is tapping the transverse vibration of a blunt slender body immersed in a stream, induced by unsteady flow separation (Von Karman vortex street). The simplest device is an array of cylinders: under specific conditions and with careful design, it is possible to work close to resonance and thereby to obtain large amplitudes of oscillation, which are converted into electricity by suitable devices (linear electrical generators or piezoelectric cells). The system was developed experimentally at University of Michigan, with several patents pending and scientific material published on preliminary tests. Numerical simulations of system dynamics allow to simulate more realistic operating conditions and to perform the mechanical optimization of the system in relation to a specific sea location. A model of the system was thus developed, resulting in a nonlinear dynamic mathematical formulation; this last is solved in the time domain using matlab/simulink programming. The sensitivity of the efficiency to the main design variables is investigated. The results demonstrate that the efficiency and power density are not attractive for the typical Mediterranean Sea conditions; however, as energy can be harvested over large surfaces, the system appears to deserve attention.

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Fig. 1

Simple schematic for vortex-induced converter dynamics

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Fig. 2

Schematic of the dynamic Simulink model

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Fig. 3

Simulation results: cylinder velocity and displacement (input data from Table 1)

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Fig. 4

Simulation results: energy conversion efficiency ηfS

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Fig. 5

Efficiency plot for U = 0.4 m/s

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Fig. 6

Efficiency plot for U = 0.525 m/s (Strait of Messina)

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Fig. 7

Device arrangement for a single assembly



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