An experimental and theoretical investigation of the flow field around small-scale mesh disk rotor simulators is presented. The downstream wake flow field of the rotor simulators has been observed and measured in the 21m tilting flume at the Chilworth hydraulics laboratory, University of Southampton. The focus of this work is the proximity of flow boundaries (seabed and surface) to the rotor disks and the constrained nature of the flow. A three-dimensional Eddy-viscosity numerical model based on an established wind turbine wake model has been modified to account for the change in fluid and the presence of a bounding free surface. This work has shown that previous axi-symmetric modelling approaches may not hold for marine current energy technology and a novel approach is required for simulation of the downstream flow field. Such modelling solutions are discussed and resultant simulation results are given. This work has been conducted as part of a BERR-funded project to develop a numerical modelling tool which can predict the flow onto a marine current turbine within an array. The work presented in this paper feeds into this project and will eventually assist the layout design of arrays which are optimally spaced and arranged to achieve the maximum possible energy yield at a given tidal energy site.

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