Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Peter Hamlington

Second Advisor

Oleg Vasilyev

Third Advisor

Daven Henze


As ocean current turbines move from the design state into production and installation, a better understanding of oceanic turbulent flows and localized loading is required to more accurately predict turbine performance and durability. In the present study, large eddy simulations (LES) are used to measure the unsteady loads and bending moments that would be experienced b and ocean current turbine placed in a tidal channel. The LES model captures currents due to winds, waves, thermal convection, and tides, thereby providing a high degree of physical realism. Probability density functions, means, and variances of unsteady loads are calculated, and further statistical measures of the turbulent environment are also examined, including vertical profiles of Reynolds stresses, two-point correlations, and velocity structure functions. The simulations show that waves and tidal velocity had the largest impact on the strength of off-axis turbine loads. It is shown both analytically and using simulation results that either transverse velocity structure functions or two-point transverse velocity spatial correlations are good predictors of unsteady loading in tidal channels.