Civil engineering graduate students win first place in Student Research Week poster contest

A poster by three graduate students in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering tied for first place in the Engineering and Architecture division of Texas A&M University's Student Research Week 2012 poster competition.

The poster, "Development of Experimental and Numerical Methods for Modeling of Offshore Wind Tower Foundations," was submitted by team Hava Tierra Water, which includes Ryan Beemer, Francisco Grajales and Madhuri Murali. Dr. Giovanna Biscontin and Dr. Charles Aubeny were advisors on the project.

Abstract: The project addresses the development of experimental and numerical tools to model the behavior of offshore foundations. In the past few years, interest has been increasingly focused on alternative and renewable sources of energy. Wind energy as an alternative to fossil fuels is being used in a number of countries to harness the energy of the moving air. Offshore wind farm developments have the benefit of stronger and sustained winds at lower heights as compared to onshore developments. Traditionally offshore foundations have been associated with gravity structures for the petroleum industry. They typically need to resist large vertical loads with limited lateral and moment loading. However, wind towers are purposely designed to be subjected to large lateral and moment loads from the wind in order to maximize power generation. Therefore, it is necessary to develop design criterion for offshore foundations under large lateral and moment loads. The immediate goal of this project was to develop laboratory equipment necessary to replicate the loading conditions on offshore wind tower foundations as well as a numerical model to validate the experimental results and simulate the prototype. A balance had to be established between the desired conditions and technological constraints. With this in mind the experimental setup and the numerical model were designed. Once these tools and methods have been fabricated and evaluated, they will be the perfect resource for assessing the performance and developing a design criterion for offshore wind tower foundations.