L. Nguyen-Sy

Doctor of Philosophy, Brasenose College, University of Oxford, Michaelmas 2005

The Theoretical Modelling of Circular Shallow Foundation for Offshore Wind Turbines


Currently, much research is being directed at alternative energy sources to supply power for modern life of today and the future. One of the most promising sources is wind energy which can provide electrical power using wind turbines. The increase in the use of this type of energy requires greater consideration of design, installation and especially the cost of offshore wind turbines. This thesis will discuss the modelling of a novel type of shallow foundation for wind turbines under combined loads. The footing considered in this research is a circular caisson, which can be installed by the suction technique. The combined loads applied to this footing will be in three-dimensional space, with six degrees of freedom of external forces due to environmental conditions. At the same time, during the process of building up the model for a caisson, the theoretical analyses for shallow circular flat footing and spudcans also are established with the same principle.

The responses of the soil will be considered in both elastic and plastic stages of behaviour, by using the framework of continuous plasticity based on thermodynamic principles. During this investigation, it is necessary to compare the numerical results with available experimental data to estimate suitable values of factors required to model each type of soil. There are five main goals of development of the model.

Firstly, a new expression for plasticity theory which includes an experimentally determined single yield function is used to model the effects of combined cyclic loading of a circular footing on the behaviour of both sand and clay. This formulation based on thermodynamics allows the derivation of plastic solutions which automatically obey the laws of thermodynamics without any further assumptions. A result of this advantage is that non-associate plasticity, which is known to be a proper approximation for geotechnical material behaviour, is obtained logically and naturally. A FORTRAN source code called ISIS has been written as a tool for numerical analysis.

Secondly, since there are some characteristics of the geometric shape and installation method which are quite different from that of spudcans and circular flat footing, another objective of this study is to adapt the current model which has been developed in ISIS for spudcans to the specific needs of caissons.

The third goal of this research is the simulation of continuous loading history and a smooth transition in the stress-strain relationship from elastic to plastic behaviour. The model is developed from a single-yield-surface model to a continuous plasticity model (with an infinite number of yield surfaces) and then is discretized to a multiple-yield-surface model which can be implemented by numerical calculation to be able to capture with reasonable precision the hysteretic response of a foundation under cyclic loading. This can not be described by a conventional single-yield-surface model.

Fourthly, as a method to simplify the numerical difficulties arising from the calculation process, a rate-dependent solution will be introduced. This modification is implemented by changing the dissipation function derived from the second law of thermodynamics.

Finally, in order to control the model to capture the real behaviour, many parameters are proposed. A parametric study will be implemented to show the effects of these parameters on the solution.

Thesis (6.50MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA website