In real ocean environments, offshore structures are exposed to a combination of wave and current loading conditions. This scenario presents the need to study fluid-structure interactions in the presence of both conditions, achievable through experimentation in a recirculating flume coupled with a wavemaker. The Ocean Resources and Renewable Energy (ORRE) group set out to design a recirculating wave-current flume at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to enable the study of technologies such as scale floating platforms and marine energy converters. In this paper, we present the methods used to arrive at an optimal flume design under strict spatial constraints posed by the available lab space. Limitations on the length, width, and height of flume are overcome via innovative flow designs and compact structures. The final design is approximately 11.5 m (37.7 ft) in length and 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide with a nominal water depth of 1 m (3.3 ft). The 2 m long test section begins 6 m beyond the inlet of the flume to maximize flow uniformity. A 24” thruster driven by 75 hp electric motor maintains a current velocity of 0.5 m/s throughout the section while a wedge-shape plunger is implemented at the inlet to generate 0.6–2.8 s period waves with a maximum height of 0.2 m. During the design process, 2D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are employed to maximize flow uniformity over a range of inlet angles and guide vane configurations. In the optimal scenario, a flow nonuniformity of 8.7 % was obtained across a 0.7 m water column measured from the free surface. Results from the 3D simulation around the tight corner section showed significant increase in flow nonuniformity. The implementation of the screens along the flow path might be necessary in the future.

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