The aim of this paper is to evaluate the hydrodynamic performance of a heaving buoy type wave energy converter (WEC) and power take-off (PTO) system. To simulate the nonlinear behavior of the WEC with PTO system, a three-dimensional potential numerical wave tank (PNWT) was developed. The PNWT is a numerical analysis tool that can accurately reproduce experiments in physical wave tanks. The developed time-domain PNWT utilized the previously developed NWT technique and newly adopted the side wall damping area. The PNWT is based on boundary element method with constant panels. The mixed Eulerian-Lagrangian method (MEL) and acceleration potential approach were adopted to simulate the nonlinear behaviors of free-surface nodes associated with body motions. The PM spectrum as an irregular incident wave condition was applied to the input boundary. A floating or fixed type WEC structure was placed in the center of the computational domain. A hydraulic PTO system composed of a hydraulic cylinder, hydraulic motor and generator was modeled with approximate Coulomb damping force and applied to the WEC system.
Using the integrated numerical model of the WEC with PTO system, nonlinear interaction of irregular waves, the WEC structure, and the PTO system were simulated in the time domain. The optimal hydraulic pressure of the PTO condition was predicted. The hydrodynamic performance of the WEC was evaluated by comparing the linear and nonlinear analytical results and highlighted the importance accounting for nonlinear free surfaces.