May 10, 2024
Conference Paper

Investigating the Longevity of Hydraulic Power Take-Off Piston Seals in Wave Energy Converters


Wave energy converters (WECs) utilize hydraulic power take-off (PTO) systems. Hydraulic cylinder seals, which are commonly made from thermoplastic or elastomeric polymers, play a vital role in PTO system functionality as they are responsible for containing and isolating high-pressure fluids. However, manufacturers of WECs have identified a significant concern regarding the longevity of hydraulic piston seal wear due to a combination of stressors, such as high pressure, elevated temperature, chemical corrosion, and/or environmental conditions. Seal failure can result in a loss of tightness and fluid leakage, and consequently a reduction in the efficiency of WECs. Seal manufacturers do not typically provide durability data as the materials are not specifically designed for WEC applications, nor do they account for real-world conditions that the materials may be exposed to. Additionally, there is no comparative performance data available between different seal manufacturers, creating uncertainty in hydraulic PTO designs for WECs. This paper reviews the current state of available seal materials for WEC hydraulic PTO systems, seal selection criteria for WEC applications, potential seal degradation mechanisms, and also material properties of the seals, such as density, hardness, tensile strength, and operating temperature. In addition, this paper also examines current evaluation procedures for estimating the durability of WEC PTO seals. Lastly, additional research on estimating the lifespan of piston and rod polymer seals used in hydraulic PTO systems is proposed.

Published: May 10, 2024


Elen M., D. Li, M.P. Spencer, and L.S. Fifield. 2023. Investigating the Longevity of Hydraulic Power Take-Off Piston Seals in Wave Energy Converters. In OCEANS 2023 - MTS/IEEE U.S. Gulf Coast, September 25-28, 2023, Biloxi, MS, 1-8. Piscataway, New Jersey:IEEE. PNNL-SA-188195. doi:10.23919/OCEANS52994.2023.10337349