Beyond VoF: alternative OpenFOAM solvers for numerical wave tanks

J Ocean Eng Mar Energy. 2020;6(3):277-292. doi: 10.1007/s40722-020-00173-9. Epub 2020 Sep 29.


The vast majority of numerical wave tank applications are solved using finite volume-based, volume of fluid methods. One popular numerical modelling framework is OpenFOAM and its two phase solvers, interFoam and interIsoFoam, enabling the simulation of a broad range of marine hydrodynamic phenomena. However, in many applications, certain aspects of the entire set of possible hydrodynamic phenomena are not of interest and the reduced complexity could allow the use of simpler, more computationally efficient solvers. One barrier for the application of such alternative solvers is the lack of suitable wavemaking and absorption capabilities, which this paper aims to address. A wavemaking and absorption methodology is presented, which can be applied to different solvers using the same fundamental concept. The implementation is presented for interFoam and interIsoFoam, as well as two other solvers whose use as numerical wave tanks has not previously been reported in the literature, shallowWaterFoam and potentialFreeSurfaceFoam. Parameter studies are performed to guide the user in the use of the methods. Example applications for two industrially relevant test cases are demonstrated; a multi-frequency wave packet focused at one position over flat bottom and regular waves propagating over a submerged shoal. All solvers yielded useful results, but some complex wave transformations in the shoal case were only resolved by the VoF methods. Alternative methods beyond the already well established VoF methods seem worth considering because potential for significant reductions in computational effort exist.