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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/F022964/1
Title: Modelling Extreme Free-Surface Flows: applications to breaking waves, wave-structure and wave-vessel interactions
Principal Investigator: Swan, Professor C
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Nobel Denton Shell Statoil Petroleum ASA
Department: Civil & Environmental Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 09 July 2008 Ends: 08 April 2012 Value (£): 370,859
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Coastal & Waterway Engineering Continuum Mechanics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Sep 2007 Engineering Science (Flow) Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The proposed research concerns the description of extreme free-surface flows with applications in both deep water offshore and the shallow water coastal locations. The work will involve the development of a new numerical model appropriate to the description of large surface water waves and their interaction with both fixed structures and floating vessels. The key feature linking these flows will be the occurrence of wave breaking; involving the break-up of the water surface, the entrainment of air and the rapid development of areas of highly turbulent flow. From a practical perspective such flows are extremely important because they are associated with the highest (limiting) water surface elevations, the largest water particle velocities and the maximum applied fluid loads. As a result, they are directly relevant to the design of all manner of marine structures and vessels.In order to simulate such flows, and in so doing provide improved physical understanding, the new numerical model will combine the advantages of two very different modelling procedures: a Boundary Element Method applied before the onset of wave breaking and Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics applied to the breaking and post-breaking fluid flow. By combining these procedures the proposed method will seek to create a robust and accurate model capable of describing a wide range of free-surface flows; particular attention being paid to those aspects of wave-structure and wave-vessel interactions that are critical for design and cannot be described by existing solution procedures.The model predictions will be validated against new laboratory observations. This will involve the use of scaled physical model tests and will consider a wide range of practically important fluid flows including:(i) Breaking waves, including both large-scale over-turning and spilling waves;(ii) Highly nonlinear effects in wave-structure interaction, including high-frequency wave scattering, vertical jetting where fluid is projected upwards to very high elevations creating wave-in-deck loads, and wave slamming on both vertical columns and the deck structure;(iii) Wave-vessel interactions, particularly the occurrence of green water inundation and large impact forces.In tackling these problems, the combined experimental and numerical studies will seek to provide new physical understanding of when and why these events occur, to assess their practical implications and to identify how they can best be modelled in engineering practice.The proposed work is relevant to a wide range of problems in fluid mechanics, with particular application to the effective design and safe operation of marine structures. Direct support from three key industrial practitioners is incorporated within the proposal. The project will also be relevant to the renewable energy industry. With interest in locating offshore wind farms in areas of high wind and therefore large wave activity, such structures are very susceptible to large-scale wave breaking and the associated impact forces. The shipping industry will also benefit from this project: the new model providing information to improve the design and/or safe operation of vessels to both increase survivability and, in the case of oil tankers, limit the potential for large-scale environmental impact and damage. Finally, the work also has a truly multi-disciplinary contribution, beyond the coastal/offshore/navel architecture boundaries, in the sense that the break-up of the water surface (specifically the entrainment of air) has implications for air-sea interactions in general, and mass exchange (CO2 absorption) in particular. Such issues are of fundamental importance to oceanographers studying the transfer processes at the ocean surface and contribute a key element to climate change modelling.
Key Findings
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