The wave energy sector is experiencing lively years of conceptual innovation and technological advances. Among the great variety of candidates, only a few are going to be able to reach maturity and, eventually, industrial feasibility and competitiveness. The essential requisite for success is the continuous innovation in response to the incremental experience gained during the design and prototyping stages. In particular, the ability to generate detailed mathematical models, representative of every phenomenon involved in the system, is crucial for informing the design and control stages, allowing to maximize productivity while minimizing costs, and inspiring technological breakthrough and innovation. This papers considers the case of the ISWEC (Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter), where a technological leap is tightly linked with the modelling of aerodynamic losses around its spinning flywheel, the core of the energy conversion chain. Two mathematical models of increasing complexity are considered, one semi-empiric and one based on computational fluid dynamics, which are successfully validated against experimental data. Such models are used to quantify the benefits of a technological innovation consisting of enclosing the flywheel in a sealed container, allowing pressure regulation to reduce aerodynamic friction. Compared to the free configuration, power losses with the enclosed configuration are about half already at atmospheric pressure, and about one third at half the atmospheric pressure.
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