Fellow Receives Commercial Impact Award

Professor Byron Byrne, one of our Fellows in Engineering Science, recently won an Impact Award from the University’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division (MPLS), the only one awarded in the ‘Commercial Impact’ category.

The annual MPLS Impact Awards aim to foster and raise awareness of impact within the University, with Professor Byrne’s Commercial Impact award recognising his contribution to new design methods for the foundations that support offshore wind turbines.

Offshore wind is central to decarbonising the world economy, with at least 1,200 wind turbines planned to be installed around UK coastlines in the next decade, and thousands more elsewhere around the world. As Principal Investigator of the PISA (Pile Soil Analysis) project, which ran from 2014 to 2016, Professor Byrne has developed new design methods that reduce the risk and cost associated with the monopile foundations (large diameter tubular steel piles) that support offshore wind turbines.

Design optimisation of these foundations is fundamental to wind farm economics and long-term turbine performance. The research, undertaken with the close involvement of ten industry partners, led by energy company Ørsted, and an academic team from Oxford, Imperial College London and University College Dublin, led by Professor Byrne, replaces design approaches dating back 50 years with new and innovative ideas. The new methods allow the turbine structures to be optimised for specific geographic locations, leading to savings of up to 30% of the steel required for each monopile foundation. In addition, the new approaches allow monopiles to be used at deeper water sites, which might otherwise require more costly alternatives. The new design methods are already being applied to the next generation wind farms around the UK and elsewhere.

Professor Byrne says, ‘By taking into account complex offshore ground conditions, lighter and more cost effective structures can be created. This research has significant implications for the future of energy production, in particular because of its contribution towards the goal of making offshore wind subsidy-free. I feel very honoured to receive this University Impact Award, which raises the profile of this research and its important industrial application towards making a renewable energy future a reality.’

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