Fellow’s Geotechnical Project wins Fleming Award

Byron Byrne, our Fellow in Engineering Science, recently led a joint university-industry team to victory winning the 2017 British Geotechnical Association Fleming Award, following a presentation at the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The Fleming Competition is held annually to commemorate the life and work of the late Dr Ken Fleming, formerly Chief Engineer at Cementation Skanska, and aims to recognise excellence in geotechnical design and construction. Projects must also demonstrate a focus on innovation and teamwork across the different disciplines involved in the work.

Byron led an entry on the PISA (Pile Soil Analysis) Project, representing Oxford, Imperial College London, Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy), Carbon Trust and SOCOTEC UK (formerly ESG), in a year where the competition had a record number of entries.

PISA was a major industry funded research project aimed at investigating and developing new design methods for large diameter tubular pile foundations, specifically for the offshore wind sector. The project was run through the Carbon Trust’s offshore wind accelerator programme, with Ørsted as the lead developer partner, along with a further 10 industry partners.

The new design methods replace approaches that date back more than 50 years but which appear to be overly conservative for some design scenarios in the offshore wind sector. The PISA design method was developed through a combination of computer simulation and theoretical modelling, and has been validated by a series of medium scale field pile tests. It is envisaged that application of PISA for some designs leads to savings of around 30% by weight of steel per foundation, as well as potential savings on installation and transportation costs. Looking forward, this allows more wind farms, with larger turbines, to be built at a faster pace, which could further reduce the cost of wind energy.

The PISA collaboration beat off strong competition from major commercial projects including work to stabilise a rail embankment in Scotland and a costal landslide in Dorset. We are delighted for Byron, and the rest of the PISA Project team, on this wonderful achievement.

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