For the analysis of loads and motions of marine structures in harsh seaways precise information about the hydrodynamics of waves is required. While the surface motion of waves can easily be measured in physical wave tanks other critical characteristics such as the instantaneous particle velocity and acceleration as well as the pressure field, especially under the wave crest are difficult and time-consuming to obtain. Therefore a new method is presented to approximate the wave potential of a given instantaneous wave contour. Numerical methods — so called numerical wave tanks (NWTs) — are developed to provide the desired insight into wave hydrodynamics. A potential theory method based on the Finite Element method (Pot/FE), a RANSE (Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes Equations) method applying VOF (Volume of Fluid) and a combination of both is utilized for the simulation of different model wave trains. The coupling of both CFD (computational fluid dynamics) solvers is a useful approach to benefit from the advantages of the two different methods: The Pot/FE solver WAVETUB (wave simulation code developed at Technical University Berlin) allows a very fast and accurate simulation of the propagation of nonbreaking waves while the RANSE/VOF solver has the capability of simulating breaking waves. Two different breaking criteria for the detection of wave breaking are implemented in WAVETUB for triggering the automated coupling process by data transfer at the interface. It is shown that an efficient method for the simulation of breaking wave trains including wave-structure interaction in 2D and 3D is established by the coupling of both CFD codes. All results are discussed in detail.

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