This paper deals with analysis of the OC4 DeepCWind semi-submersible wind turbine, which is provided by NREL through the OC4 project. This concept is a three-column semi-submersible supporting a 5 MW wind turbine on an additional central column.

The fact that the semi-submersible floater needs a large water line restoring moment to achieve sufficient stability and the control of the cost based on the steel weight make the design of braces and pontoons very challenging. Effective methods are needed to check the strength of the brace system based on the response forces and moments in the braces under different design environmental conditions, while the floating wind turbine is needed to be considered as an aero-hydro-servo-elastic system.

A novel modeling methodology based on the code Simo/Riflex is introduced in this paper. Simo/Riflex is a state-of-the-art code that can account for the coupling effect between rigid body motions and slender structures (e.g. mooring lines, braces and blades) in the time-domain. Simo/Riflex can be combined with Aerodyn, which is a state-of-the-art aerodynamic code, to model the floating wind turbine as an aero-hydro-servo-elastic system, as well as be combined with simplified aerodynamic codes (e.g.TDHMILL) to improve the efficiency of the numerical simulation.

The novel modeling method can give the forces and moments in the brace system of the floater under hydrodynamic and aerodynamic loads in the time-domain. In order to get the structural response of the braces, the side columns and the central supporting column are modeled as independent rigid bodies in Simo while the braces are modeled by beam elements in Riflex. Master and slave relationship is applied at the joints in between of the columns and braces.

As an application example, the novel modeling method based on the code Simo/Riflex+TDHMILL, which is capable of modeling the floating wind turbine as an aero-hydro-elastic system, has been used to carry out Ultimate Limit State (ULS) design check for the brace system of the OC4 DeepCWind semi-submersible wind turbine based on relevant standards, i.e. NORSOK N00-3, NORSOK N-004, IEC61400-1, IEC61400-3.

The modeling method can also be used by other codes which have similar features as Simo/Riflex.

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