Wave Tank

Inducing Motion

MTU Wave features a 10 m x 3m x 1m Edinburgh Designs wave tank with eight independently controlled paddles with position and force feedback to generate desired wave fields propagating towards an adjustable 3m long curved high-density, polyethylene, energy-adsorbing beach. 

Wave Tank Specs

Tank Capabilities
  • Glass wall for observation and imaging of underwater experiments. 
  • Max Wave Height = 0.25 m, Wave Bandwidth = 0.3 - 1.3 Hz (0.8 - 3.3 second period).
  • Time-synchronized instrumentation, including an 11 camera, Qualisys motion tracker, wave gauges, a dSPACE MicroLabBox for data acquisition and control system implementation.
  •  Buoy dynamometer for applying motion while measuring forces on submerged bodies. 
  • Overhead-mounted, 6-axis Universal Robots UR10e for force or position manipulation of objects in the wave tank.
  • Overhead walkway for easy access to the wave tank and for mounting of test equipment.
  • Frictionless PTO WEC control testbed.
Tank Technology
  • MTU Wave was designed with wave energy converter (WEC) technology in mind. 
  • Research topics include control algorithm development, fundamental hydrodynamic phenomena, validation of numerical models, and wave force machine learning strategies. 
  • Large motion WECs, whose models require nonlinear terms exploitable by the control system, are of particular interest. 
  • Validation of a CFD model of MTU Wave for fundamental hydrodynamic studies, such as the damping behavior of porous structures. 
  • Testing mini-thruster technologies is another area where MTU Wave is well-suited

Buoy Dynamometer

  • Speed or force-controlled linear actuator, Stroke: 200mm, Max Speed: 25.4 mm/s
  • Modular, water-proof load cell, Max. Force: 222N

Underwater Data/Power Transmitter

  • Voltage: 24
  • Max Power: 50 W


  • MATLAB / Simulink / Simscape (95 toolboxes)
  • dSPACE Control Desk
  • WEC-Sim
  • Wolfram System Modeler
  • Njord Wave Synthesis (wave field synthesis)
michigan tech wave tank

Wave Tank Instrumentation & Software

  • Dimensions (length, width, height): 10m x 3m x 1m
  • Maximum wave height: 0.25 m
  • Wave period range: 0.8 to 3.3 seconds
  • Overhead access and walkway
  • Custom wave field creation/analysis software
  • Glass wall for underwater observation and imaging 
  • 11-camera Qualisys motion capture system
  • 16 wave gauges
  • dSPACE MicroLabBox (32 analogs in, 16 analog out, 48 digital I/O, two CAN, two serial, and one Gigabit ethernet)
  • Data collection across all systems is time-synchronized
  • Validated CFD model of the tank and the motion of any objects placed in it

Low-Friction Testbed

Our wave tank offers a Low-Friction Testbed for Model Scale Wave Energy Converter Control System Studies.

  • Frictionless air bearings
  • Controllable voice coil actuator (dSPACE), Stroke: 85 mm, max Force: 150N
  • Non-contact LVIT position sensor, and load cell
  • Easily changeable buoy attachment system.
  • Time-Synchronized to the rest of MTU wave’s instrumentation - wave gauges, paddle commands,and  motion tracking
michigan tech wave tank
Modeling & Fab

The facility has ready access to several plastic 3D printers (VAT polymerization, material jetting, and Fused Deposition Modeling), a newly commissioned 3D Systems DMP Flex 350 metal printer, and a complete machine shop for buoy and fixture fabrication.

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