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Computer-Aided Engineering Tools

Computer simulation of a floating point absorber in water. The water is represented by blue and red stripes. The absorber is represented by a red disk above water connected to a blue disk below water.

NREL develops advanced computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to support the wind and water power industries with state-of-the-art design and analysis capabilities. NREL is developing a suite of integrated CAE tools for wave and tidal energy converters that will provide a full range of simulation capabilities for single devices and arrays for research, development and demonstration efforts at all technology readiness levels. These CAE tools will produce realistic models that simulate the behavior of marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) systems in complex environments—waves, currents, turbulence, storms—and will predict and analyze the structural dynamics, seakeeping, power takeoff response, control systems, hydrodynamic loading, and power generation characteristics. The NREL CAE tool suite will be useful for MHK designers, manufacturers, consultants, certifiers, researchers, and educators.

The tools are developed as free, open-source, professional-grade products for the MHK industry. The open-source approach facilitates the tools' credibility and adaptability within the industry. The tools are modular and will be well documented and supported by NREL through workshops and an on-line forum. NREL plans to verify the tools through model-to-model comparisons, validate them with test measurements, and have them certified.

High-Speed Computing

Numerical simulation of water power technologies on high-performance computers enables the study of complex systems and natural phenomena that would be too expensive, too dangerous, or even impossible to study by direct experimentation. Such simulation is critical to accelerate progress in energy programs within the U.S. Department of Energy and it will lead to new ways of tackling our nation's energy challenges that are not possible through traditional experimentation alone.

NREL's Computational Science Center (CSC) leads the lab's efforts in high-performance computing, computational science, applied mathematics, scientific data management, visualization, and informatics.