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Application of a Design for Excellence Methodology for a Wireless Charger Housing in Underwater Environments

Pereira, PNDAD; Campilho, RDSG; Pinto, AMG;


A major effort is put into the production of green energy as a countermeasure to climatic changes and sustainability. Thus, the energy industry is currently betting on offshore wind energy, using wind turbines with fixed and floating platforms. This technology can benefit greatly from interventive autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to assist in the maintenance and control of underwater structures. A wireless charger system can extend the time the AUV remains underwater, by allowing it to charge its batteries through a docking station. The present work details the development process of a housing component for a wireless charging system to be implemented in an AUV, addressed as wireless charger housing (WCH), from the concept stage to the final physical verification and operation stage. The wireless charger system prepared in this research aims to improve the longevity of the vehicle mission, without having to return to the surface, by enabling battery charging at a docking station. This product was designed following a design for excellence (DfX) and modular design philosophy, implementing visual scorecards to measure the success of certain design aspects. For an adequate choice of materials, the Ashby method was implemented. The structural performance of the prototypes was validated via a linear static finite element analysis (FEA). These prototypes were further physically verified in a hyperbaric chamber. Results showed that the application of FEA, together with well-defined design goals, enable the WCH optimisation while ensuring up to 75% power efficiency. This methodology produced a system capable of transmitting energy for underwater robotic applications.