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Genevieve Beck and Jessica Crosswell

Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania




Sharp 115 degree


17.5m radius
of curvature

Base thickness



Base radius



Effective radius




Drag Coefficient
Lift Coefficient
Reynolds number
Dimensionless distance from wall
Boundary layer thickness


Table 1-3: Set environmental conditions (North Sea)



Water depth


Air draft



This report outlines the hydrodynamic comparison of two

gravity based structures, Hibernia and Hebron. In particular
this report analyses the force components acting on the
structure while submerged within conditions seen commonly
within the North Sea. The basic parameters used to
investigate this objective can be seen in Table 1 -1.
Table 1-1: Outline of parameters investigated

Change in frontal
area/geometry alters flow

Angle of attack


Further initial conditions used within this paper include

environmental variables. These can be seen in Table 1 -3.

Drag coefficient

Non-dimensional constant
that summarises fluid
activity around geometry

Tipping moments

Can determine stability in



The full-scale geometry for both structures can be seen in ..

From it can be seen that both geometries are similar in
magnitude and only differ with regards to their quantity and
curvature of vortices. For a detailed comparison of the
geometry dimensions see Table 1 -2
Table 1-2: Comparison of structure dimensions





The background knowledge associated with the simulation

is necessary for both validating and interpreting the results.
This section outlines all theory used within the paper to
accurately reach a conclusive comparison between the GBS
Hibernia and Hebron.




The following concepts in this section are used outside of

the computational simulation for understanding the physical
situation of the flow problem. Through the understanding of
these concepts, the correct meshing and boundary conditions
can be calculated. For simplicity of reference they are
ordered alphabetically.
The boundary layer defines the layer of fluid from the edge
of the surface to the free steam velocity. A typical profile can
be seen in Figure 2 -1 for both laminar and turbulent flow.

As the boundary layer forms on the plate, viscous stresses

appear on the wall between the roughness of the plate and
the viscosity of the fluid. These stresses work against the
movement of the flow and create a drag on the submerged

Figure 2-1: A typical profile of a boundary layer (NASA, 1971) and the
distinctions between laminar and turbulent (University of Sydney, 2015)

The profile seen in Figure 2 -1 is created from the friction

present on the surface, causing a non-slip condition. An
alternative to this concept is the free slip condition (see
CFX-Pre Strategy). The non-slip condition ultimately leads
to a very thin, slow moving sub-layer very close to the
surface affected by what is known as the wall shear stress.
As the distance from the wall increases, the velocity gradient
increases until met with the free stream velocity.
Additionally a boundary layer may be laminar or turbulent.
In the context of this paper, a turbulent boundary layer will
be considered.
To estimate the boundary layer for a cylindrical geometry,
an approximation can be made by using the equation for a
flat plate in turbulent flow (Mollard, 2011).

0.37 D

Equation approximates the maximum thickness of the

boundary layer (i.e. at separation point). However to be
conservative this value is doubled when modelled.
To calculate the first layer of the boundary is used (White,

D Y 80
Re 13/14

From the number of layers is able to be determined by

equating the amount that fit within the total boundary layer
thickness found in .
The drag of a subsea structure is a force created proportional
to the velocity in the opposing direction of the movement.
Additionally, as the density of the fluid medium increases,
the consequent drag on the structure increases. This can be
seen in .

FD CD ADrag v 2
Where ADrag represents the frontal area of the structure
exposed to the flow. Drag can be categorized into two
components; skin friction and form drag. F ORM D RAG

Form drag, also known as pressure drag, is caused by the
differential pressure on the structure. As the structure is
subjected to moving flow, the fluid pushes initially onto the
bow face much harder than the flow at the aft end of the
structure. The differential pressure of a structure is
decreased by the slenderness of the structure i.e. how
streamlined the structure is. In the context of this paper a
vertical cylinder is considered; a non-streamlined structure.
This will therefore result in a large pressure differential and
ultimately increase the form drag component. In the case of
a non-streamlined body, the differential pressure is amplified
by the occurrence of wakes in the flow.
As a flow moves around a body and recirculates in the
presence of a wake region, the current acting in reverse to
the movement is called an eddy current. This confused flow
is undesirable and increases the pressure differential on the
body. Eddy viscosity is a term given characteristic of the
flow rather than the fluid. Used in turbulent modelling, this
value helps predict the nature and occurrence of the eddy
currents around a body. (White, 2011)
The free surface is defined as the bordering face between
two fluids of different densities/viscosities. In the context of
this paper it is the border between seawater and air.
A pressure gradient is the change in pressure over time on a
submerged structure. It is the main component of fluid
acceleration within a volume. The pressure gradient is
highly dependent on both fluid velocity and fluid density.
Additionally the pressure gradient can change depending on
the fluid recovery after interaction with a solid face.
(Shapiro, 2006)
The Reynolds number is used to classify the type of flow
around a solid submerged in a fluid. This value correlates
directly to the thickness of the boundary layer, used to
estimate separation point and subsequently generate a mesh
that accurately determines the pressure difference
surrounding the structure. The physical significance of the
value represents the ratio of both inertial and viscous
stresses. Therefore at higher Reynolds numbers, inertial
forces are more prevalent and turbulent flow exists.
Consequently at lower Reynolds numbers, viscous forces are
large and the flow is laminar. (Subramanian, 2006)
Reynolds number is defined in :




Within the scope of this paper a high Reynolds number is

used, meaning a turbulent flow is present and viscous forces
are minimal.
In the event of an adverse pressure gradient, fluid pressure is
increased in the direction of the moving fluid. Due to the
proportionality between pressure and potential energy, this
adverse pressure gradient can cause a significant decrease in
kinetic energy and ultimately cause a deceleration of the
fluid. Due to the loss in velocity, the boundary layer thickens
(see Equations and ). With a thicker boundary layer, the
velocity profile decreases in gradient leading ultimately to a
decrease in wall shear stress. When the decrease in wall
shear stress is reduced to zero, separation occurs i.e. with a
large enough adverse pressure gradient. (Celli, 1997)
Viscous forces are caused by the friction between a
submerged body and the fluid moving past it. As discussed
in Section 2.1.8, at higher Reynolds numbers these effects
are at a minimal. In the context of the paper (excluding
validation) only higher Reynolds numbers are considered. In
these situations despite the effects of viscous forces being
minimal, they cannot be ignored close to the wall at the
boundary layer.
As the flow moves over the subsea structure, a nonstreamlined body will exhibit a large pressure change
between each end of the structure. The low pressure region
at the aft of the structure is predominantly caused by the
wake region. The wake region is categorized as the area of
flow where mixing is intensified and a large amount of
energy is lost from recirculation of flow. (White, 2011)


The theory specific to using CFD involves understanding the

computation methods used and limitations involved when
simulating fluid flow.
In the context of the project outline, this method performs
with high efficiency when considering the limitations in
place. Other CFD flow simulation methods are large eddy
simulation (LES) and direct numerical simulation (DNS).
Due to limitations in both time and computational
requirements these methods were not achieveable. However
ultimately, as drag is the desired variable, high level
simulations of flow behavior including separation point
prediction are not necessary to achieve high accuracy results
that fit within the project scope. Reynolds-Averaged NavierStokes (RANS) method involves the combination of
continuity, momentum and energy equations to form the
Navier-Stokes equations and then applying the assumption

of incompressible flow, simplifying this theorem. The

Reynolds-averaging technique involves introducing a
fluctuant turbulent velocity that varies through a mean
velocity, overall introducing Reynolds stresses to the
system. Turbulent flow is modelled rather than calculated.
Using a grid convergence study, validation through
Richardsons Extrapolation is able to verify with validity of
a fluid study. To conduct this study three refinements of the
mesh are necessary fine (1), medium (2) and coarse (3)
each with a steady decrease in number of cells (constant
ratio). Due to the restriction of the paper, nodes are used for
comparison as opposed to elements. A non-dimensional
value is used to compare each mesh. Drag coefficient is used
in this paper. Once each value is computed, the changes of
solution are found as follows:

32 C (h3 ) C (h2 )
21 C (h2 ) C (h1 )
The ratio of the values found in and must be between 0 and
1 for monotonic convergence. The changes in solution are
represented by:

ln(32 / 21 )
ln(r )

Where r is the ratio between each refinement. The error

estimate can then be calculated by:

r p 1

From the final Richardson-extrapolation solution, CR, can

be found:

The value determined in represents the solution at an
infinite number of cells. From this value, a reasonable error
can be calculated from any solutions with the same control
volume and similar mesh.
For this paper the Shear Stress Transport (SST) method is
used for simulation. As discussed, RANS simulation models
eddy-viscosity turbulence rather than through calculation.
Two models exist depending on the proximity to the wall: k within the free stream and k- close to the wall.
Using the k- often overestimates shear stress in adverse
pressure gradients due to its lack of consideration around the
boundary layer. To solve this issue, a k- accurately predicts
the flow at adverse pressure gradients; however the free
stream values must be pre-determined.

SST utilizes both of these methods in their entirety and

therefore proves as a useful tool in accurately determining
pressure gradients independent of the fluids proximity to
the wall. (Davidson, 2006)


The methodology of the simulation details the conditions

assumed and the justification through calculations of their


The two models were drawn in ANSYS Design Modeler.

Due to the likelihood and necessity of iterating this
geometry in light of new data, Design Modeler was chosen
for its ease of adaptability with meshing and CFX.
Drawing the models were achieved by first choosing a plane
to sketch on and then making the cross sectional shape. For
a consistency of direction with regards to the ITTC
standards the xy plane was chosen, ensuring that the z axis
was used for water depth definition. The 2D sketches were
then extruded into a 3D structure. For the 16-pointed star
and the heptafoil, the angles of the 2D sketch are mirrored to
increase efficiency and accuracy.

The structure and control volume are halved in order to

reduce nodal count and consequent computational time. The
plane of symmetry is used to halve the bodies as it assumes
the fluid will flow around both sides in the same pattern.
A triangular prism was drawn and extruded around the two
structures; this was designed in a shape that would capture
the expected turbulence pattern. As shown in Fig In the
mesh stage of modelling this prism was used as a body of
influence. This was kept as a frozen part. The structure is
Boolean-subtracted from the water and air bodies, such that
all the bodies left is three frozen bodies.

Named selections

Join two bodies to one part for faces to join during


Mention body of influence possibly with snapshot

of results file showing area of interest

Talk about named selections (air and water faces of

structure split, why)

Talk about coordinate system at the free surface for

ease when define volume fraction expression in

The control volume for the two structures was drawn on a

separate sketch on the same xy plane. Not all the dimensions
of the control volume were given, shown below in Fig.
were the given values.



For both models a similar mesh was adopted, ensuring that

the same level of accuracy was tested in both cases for
comparison purposes.
Initial considerations were given to sizing the body of
influence, offering a refined mesh size in the area previously
found to contain hydrodynamic points of interest (i.e.
separation and wake). Since these points of interest have an
effect on the desired measured variable (drag), it was
decided that a refinement will subsequently increase the
quality of the results.
Secondly, the face sizing of the structure itself was given
priority. Furthermore the inflation layer on the structure was
introduced. By sizing both the face and surrounding control
volume before the inflation layer, the likelihood of the
inflation layer crashing is reduced.
Equation was doubled as a conservative value for the
boundary layer total thickness. This is due to the nature of
the equation and the complexity of this shape compared to a
flat plate. In reality, the boundary layer thickness can be up
to double the expected thickness before separation and not
capturing this area can be catastrophic to drag prediction.
The number of layers defined were 3, corresponding to a
large y+ value of 40000. This y+ value led to the location of
the first node lying within the log layer. Although this
consequently reduced the accuracy of the simulation, it was
a necessary trade-off given the element restriction of
500,000 as well as the task of modelling full-scale.
A second inflation layer was defined at the free surface to
capture the interaction between water and air. The thickness
and number of layers used corresponded with that chosen
for the free surface inflation layer. This is purely due to
mesh connection limitation, and simplification. The
likelihood of pinch points occurring increases when two
inflation layers join with differing characteristics.


A CFX-Pre general file was created with the mesh model

imported for the fluid properties to be set. The mesh was
imported into CFX-Pre as an ANSYS meshdat file. This
ensured that all nodal connections and elements were
accurately imported and ready for simulation. Once
imported, all named selections were noted to have
transferred across smoothly.
To simplify computational time heat transfer was neglected
and the same temperature assumed throughout the structure.
In reality this change in temperature would have minimal
effects on the drag calculation. Both air and water fluid
properties were set for at a temperature of 25 degrees
Celsius. The air was set to act at a reference pressure of 1
ATM (atmospheric pressure). Both fluids again were set
with buoyancy active and gravity acting in the z direction.

The fluid turbulence model was set as shear stress transport

(SST). This was selected for the simulation to ensure a good
prediction of friction using the boundary layer as well as
accurate predictions throughout the log-law region.
The fluid domain was given an interphase transfer of a free
surface, since the water and fluid phases interact at the free
The inlet condition was added as a boundary to the default
domain using the previously defined named selection. Using
an inlet allows fluid flow to only move in one direction
(negative x direction) into the control volume. An input
velocity of 2 ms-1 was given to the water domain, with air
speed defined as 3 ms-1. If the air domain velocity was to run
less than the water, it is common for the control volume
modelled in CFX to become misbalanced, Therefore this
addition to the simulation increases stability, and is later
removed from the drag coefficient due to the split in named
selections of the structure above and below the waterline.
To create a fully developed flow at the inlet, zero gradient
turbulence was selected.
For the outlet condition an opening was selected using the
named selection. Selecting an opening ensured that no flow
will be trapped within the domain and that the flow could
travel two-ways through the outlet. Again zero gradient
turbulence was selected as the output boundary is assumed
to have no effect on the fully developed flow. The relative
pressure at the outlet was entered as an expression with
conditional values. Above the waterline (air domain) it was
expected that the relative pressure would be 0Pa (i.e. remain
at atmospheric pressure). However, below the waterline, a
back pressure was necessary to simulate hydrostatic
Each wall, including the back wall and bottom of the control
volume, were defined as free slip walls (no boundary layer).
On the back wall and the bottom of the structure, it was
assumed that, due to their distance from the structure itself,
any interaction would have negligible effect on the flow. In
the full scale situation especially, these boundaries would
not have an effect on the fluid dynamics around the
structure. Any effect that they may have on the structure was
taken as a trade-off against the amount of extra
computational time it would take to model a boundary layer
on this surface if prescribed as a non-slip.
As the structure is highly important in determining the effect
of the fluid flow it has been prescribed as a non-slip wall
through named selections. Defining the structure as non-slip
leads to the solid boundary of the structure holding fluid
with zero velocity. This leads to a velocity profile away from
the wall, fundamental to the consequent drag estimation.
Since the structure has only had half modelled, the
symmetrical side is given the boundary of symmetry. This
boundary consequently mirrors the fluid behavior on either
side and lets the fluid act with how it expects the fluid to

behave on the other side. Ultimately the behavior will be

modelled identically on either side and consequently halve
computational time.
The top side boundary type is an opening to allow two-way
flow and eliminate any possible compression between the
water and fluid body.

Figure 4-2: Fine mesh with 515037 elements

Figure 4-3: Medium mesh with 251772 elements

Figure 4-4: Coarse mesh with 122418 elements

The distinction of air and water within the domain (i.e.

defining the free surface) utilized volume fraction
expressions. Since the global coordinate system was define
at the expected location of the free surface, the expression
was simplified and able to be easily entered at both the
outlet and inlet conditions. At the top opening, the volume
fraction was entered as purely air.

One angle of attack was studied in this validation due to

time limitations. However in an ideal situation all angles
used in the study should be verified.


To decrease the computational effort needed for

convergence, initialization was set using the expressions for
volume fraction with the given global coordinate system.
Drag was measured for convergence as this was decided as
fundamental to the case study. To define drag an expression
was used to measure the force acting on the structure walls
in the direction of the flow. As mentioned previously, this
force was divided into two drag with respect to air velocity
and water velocity due to the differences in density
between air and water.
From trial and error, it was found that the maximum
iterations needed were between 1000 and 2000 depending
on the level of discretisation in the mesh. Convergence was
defined as three level oscillations over a period of 2-3
significant figures.


What is defined as convergence (oscillatory

convergence, how many)

Measuring points (drag)

Figure 4-5: Fine mesh convergence

Figure 4-6: Medium mesh convergence


If time do simulation at 1/8th scale (Reynolds


If time remove air domain and run with only water

(talk about Fraude scaling) ****

The grid convergence method used in this paper follows

Richardsons extrapolation for three different complexities
of mesh.
Richardsons extrapolation compares non-dimensional
values found at meshes using a proportional number of cells.
For this study a constant ratio of 2 was used and the nodal
count was at 125,000, 250,000 and 500,000 respectively.

Figure 4-7: Coarse mesh convergence

Shapiro, A. H. (2006). Pressure Fields and Fluid

Institute of Technology.
Subramanian, R. S. (2006). Reynolds Number. Clarkson:
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular
University of Sydney. (2015, 03 24). Laminar and Turbulent
Boundary Layers. Retrieved from Aerodynamics




Tabular data comparing;


Drag coefficients

Moment z

Moment y

Moment x


Picture of velocity contour (comparison)

Picture of pressure contour (comparison)

Picture of eddy viscosity (comparison)

Overall comment of aspect of geometry that

contribute to delay of separation point, etc, and link
back to quantitative results.





Which design is more stable.


Celli, V. (1997). Boundary Layer Separation and Pressure

Drag. Retrieved from Fluid Mechanics:
Davidson, L. (2006). The SST Model. Retrieved from
Modelling: turb model
Mollard, A. F. (2011). Ship Resistance and Propulsion.
USA: Cambridge.
NASA. (1971). Research Authorization 201. In Model
Research - Volume 2 (p. Appendix F).

White, F. (2011). Fluid Mechanics. New York: McGrawHill.