A zonal hybrid approach coupling FNPT with OpenFOAM for modelling wave-structure interactions with action of current

Qian Li, Jinghua Wang, Shiqiang Yan, Jiaye Gong, Qingwei Ma

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a hybrid numerical approach, which combines a two-phase Navier- Stokes model (NS) and the fully nonlinear potential theory (FNPT), for modelling wave-structure interaction. The former governs the computational domain near the structure, where the viscous and turbulent effects are significant, and is solved by OpenFOAM/InterDyMFoam which utilising the finite volume method (FVM) with a Volume of Fluid (VOF) for the phase identification. The latter covers the rest of the domain, where the fluid may be considered as incompressible, inviscid and irrotational, and solved by using the Quasi Arbitrary Lagrangian- Eulerian finite element method (QALE-FEM). These two models are weakly coupled using a zonal (spatially hierarchical) approach. Considering the inconsistence of the solutions at the boundaries between two different sub-domains governed by two fundamentally different models, a relaxation (transitional) zone is introduced, where the velocity, pressure and surface elevations are taken as the weighted summation of the solutions by two models. In order to tackle the challenges associated and maximise the computational efficiency, further developments of the QALE-FEM have been made. These include the derivation of an arbitrary Lagrangian- Eulerian FNPT and application of a robust gradient calculation scheme for estimating the velocity. The present hybrid model is applied to the numerical simulation of a fixed horizontal cylinder subjected to a unidirectional wave with or without following current. The convergence property, the optimisation of the relaxation zone, the accuracy and the computational efficiency are discussed. Although the idea of the weakly coupling using the zonal approach is not new, the present hybrid model is the first one to couple the QALE-FEM with OpenFOAM solver and/or to be applied to numerical simulate the wave-structure interaction with presence of current.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-407
Number of pages27
JournalOcean Systems Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • FNPT
  • Hybrid model
  • NS solver
  • OpenFOAM
  • Wave-current-structure interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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