Design of floating structures exposed to water waves often requires nonlinear analysis because of high wave steepness and large body motion. In this context, Mixed Eulerian-Lagrangian (MEL) methods for nonlinear water wave problems based on the potential flow theory have been studied extensively. Here, the Laplace equation with Dirichlet boundary condition on the free surface is solved using the boundary integral method, and a time integration method is used to find the particle displacements and velocity potential on the free surface. Finite element methods based on the MEL formulation have been developed in the 90s. Several researchers have pursued this approach, addressing the various challenges thrown open, such as velocity computation, pressure computation on moving surfaces, remeshing of the computational domain, smoothing and imposition of radiation condition. Apart from these, the implementation of the FE model in particular involves several computational issues such as element property computation, solution of large banded matrix equations, and efficient organization of computer storage, all of which are crucial for the computational tool to become successful. A study of these aspects constitutes the primary focus of the present work.
The authors have recently developed a 3-D FE model employing the MEL formulation, which has been applied to predict waves in a flume and basin. The fluid domain is discretized using 20-node hexahedral elements. The free surface equations are solved in the time domain employing the three-point Adams-Bashforth method. Validation of the numerical model and relative computation times for salient steps in the FE model are discussed in the paper.