Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Cmon, it's time to talk about work again...

Hi guys,

Yes..it's been a long time since I talked about work...so, no escaping today. 

It's amazing, only one year has passed...fast like I don't know what..and I feel I have learned quite a lot. Well, but I'm still far from a relevant level...just 5 minutes of talking with any of my supervisors, at Trinity or Lloyd's to have my intelectual ego put at place again!

So, I started with a probabilistic assessment of the reliability methodologies used to analise offshore wind turbine towers and foundations, then I diverged to the analysis of external loads and how to extrapolate extreme events, with particular focus on significant wave heights. Currently I am again working on the turbine tower itself. 

For that I have been learning and working with an amazing open source software that probably all of you are working with wind turbines know about; FAST developed by NREL from United States. For  an open source software it's really capable. Basically, lets say its developers deserve a statue in the wind energy research world. Well, but not everything is a sea of flowers, it's learning curve can be quite harsh... 

Lloyd's has been a great "support" so far. It's really good to have this close contact from a company with so much experience. Only "seeing" everything from the university can be quite hard to get the real awareness of how things are processed in the business world. 

The analysis of turbine towers is straightforward but complex. They are calculated with the partial safety codes recommended in the standard and with support of several Design Load Cases (usually called DLC) to guide the designer. Of course these codes have a whole world of probabilistic assessment background.

No surprise that such a technological sector has such advanced techniques and a whole world of regulations behind. Well you know...its a big sector... usually, if  "mountains" are not moved that means that there is not enough money at stake...

Anyway, dark things aside, like in almost every field (and one of the reasons why there is all this ruckus around the research world and its inadaptability to real applications) there are still some gaps between the industrial world and the research world.

I am now focusing on how to define the failure of the offshore wind turbines, and the first thing I have seen....there are lot's of really interesting methods, with really huge potential to be applied in the analysis of offshore wind turbines. We are talking of methods that probably are able to acess the reliability of a wind turbine  for some of the more complicated DLC in less than one day.

Yet the industry still keeps analysing these same DLC in months or (more if multiple computers and processing methods are note use). What's wrong here?

I believe there is a big problem of perception...and I believe that almost everyone has this perception..so nothing new.

These amazing methodologies, sometimes, are not that tangible. But tangible approaches in their way may not be that interesting from the point of view of research. For companies is hard to put so much at stake risking with something that they "cannot" touch to some extent. So, where do we stay here? Well, approaches like TRUSS are looking directly to fill this space full of new blood (don't look at it with all that inovative sense, this is the gap were more money is being invested lately). Maybe we won't turn 10000 time domain simulations in 70, but if we can make it 2000 Wooww!

In the end, apart from all the critics to the research world and industrial world we listen around magazines, news, etc, I really believe everyone is really bringing their best to achieve new improvements.

And this applies to everything, is really easy to sit and criticize so much stuff...and you don't need to be at home in the coach...or be the Portuguese called "bench coaches" (ones that criticize without any responsability or are deeply destructive in their approach)  but also everyone in the profissional world, etc etc... So, be carefull with your approach if you in some sense feel that you don't know better, but deeply. And most of the times, if you really feel you know better, I would say you're wrong.

It gets always boring when the topic is work :) see you soon!

Anyway,the real question that I have been wondering lately is, who programs the traffic lights in Dublin?... talk about real crazy and full of adrenaline experiences...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

New phase : Secondment

Hello guys!

Well, here I am to tell about the new phase I just got into. 
In the beginning of October I just started my secondment at Lloyd's Register. Yes yes you all know it because I said in my previous post...but this time is for real, not just an especulation about what will happen.

So, this means 2 weeks in London working in a big company. For me, a completely different experience. I worked in a company before but this is big. 
And big is really the word to qualify London. 

First day of secondment and it was automatically beginner mistake. In London everyone dresses minimally formal, keep that in mind for future experiences. Well, it is not something that I am crazy about or support much but in this "old world" Is still a rule and it won't change in one day, takes time. Of course that with time I got my pace too. 

People in my office are very nice too. Already made some good friends, friends of coffee, friends of the weekly day out to lunch, friends of works discussion and friends out of work...well...etc etc. The important part is that I have been around people that have lots of "kilometers" or better...miles in the offshore engineering field and that has been quite rewarding. Big learning process!

About London, is what you know, experienced or heard about. It's hugeeee! And crazy! I have been taking my time to walk around and know the city. For instance in Saturday I walked 27 km and Sunday I went to the Natural history museum and crashed in the middle of the visit (which took me 4h, you can tell how big) ...well, it was the weight of the age talking louder. 

Some areas of London are lovely, really amazing. It's great for some time. Really great. 
Already found, accidentally, a place to go chill out some time. A pleasant surprise. Definitely my favorite spot in London...but you need to go like 5 minutes before closing for 5 minutes of reflection. Or when it is raining like infinite, otherwise it will be packed. 

It is just perfect to go out inside. Kyoto garden. 

Well, that was all for now. I'll come back soon. 

P.S. guys, no worries, I still prefer Dublin...I'll be back. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Quick Update and Start of New Season

Hello guys,

Here we are again after a long period out. My fault as always...
Today, I'll make a small update of the situation around here.

First, some new things!
Regarding work, things are progressing well. Just finishing a substantial part of the work now, one that I've been working the last months.  And then embrace a new challenge.

Sooo,  as part of the program I'll be moving to London and Aberdeen during 4 months starting very likely in the beginning of October. Going to work on a company called Lloyd's Register.  Probably many of you heard about...

Well, Lloyd's Register it's a super company from the UK that has a cross sectorial approach with activity in many engineering fields. Offices all around UK, and that's what will make me go around a bit. Anyway, for sure a very enlightening experience.

Two weeks ago was in CERI2016 presenting a paper on the comparative assessment of methodologies to estimate the probability of failure of offshore wind turbine towers! Seeing some friends, doing new ones and discussing research in contemporary way. That was it!

Heavy TRUSS around there :) 

To end, I'll leave you with the most recent creation by our "mastermind"  behind the scenes... But let's leave that mastermind thing for when she receives her statue ... 

I'll come back soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Landscape vs Wind Turbines

So, as promised, today I come with the topic: " Is the combination Wind Turbines-landscape good or not?".

Some of you may be thinking now: "Yes, sure they are!"; others, "Are you crazy? They're horrible!". The more "raw" people will be "This guy lost his mind, that's too relative and who cares...". And we continue further on...

That's it! This is how fundamental this question is. As an example I remember a story from one professor I had back when I was doing my degree.He called the "coffee machine story". (he was one of the "big-mans" behind the growth of wind energy in Portugal... country that, for  the most distracted, just set last month the new record of time operating exclusively on renewable energy, 107 hours! Very proud! Good to break the ice and appear in the international news for good reasons!)

What's the story of the coffee machine? Back in the beginning of the Wind energy in Portugal he was getting a coffee in a conference and, at separated times, met two old colleagues from the time when he was studying.
So, he ran into the first, who immediately started to complain about a wind farm that was installed in the North:
- "What are you doing with those ugly machines? I cant even look now.. I'm almost covering my car's windows full of old landscapes photos to enjoy the way back! What will be the next step?!"
Of course, a big disappointment for someone that was putting so much heart into the wind turbines. 5 minutes after, comes the other old colleague:
-"How are you? It's amazing this new thing of wind turbines! Now every time I leave my home to work I go looking at them, such an excitement. Every morning I start wondering: Will they be rotating or not today?"

This shows the extent of the disparity between comments regarding the wind turbines vs the landscape. It happened in seconds! 
Personally, I like them. When it come to the offshore ones, I even like to go the coast and see them. But I understand those who don't. Maybe seeing it everyday is not the same and well, this is it, everyone has different connections with the landscape.

Apart from the "small talk", there's one fundamental thing above all the criticism, the aesthetics and the "beautiness", to me these equipment are still one of the best shots that we have for "clean energy". They are big in power, have quite an acceptable life-cycle footprint and the environmental impacts are still among the less worst ones. Inside our system they are everyday more economically competitive and yes, they kill birds...but not all these people say...

Yes, I know...I know...There are other alternatives, and renewable energy is not everything when it comes to saving the world.
I agree, maybe the timing of renewable energy is not yet there. I know that we should focus on what we have first and make things more efficient, energetic efficiency.
Yes, today we have such deep issues to solve first and so many "fires" to control that nobody knows where to look...  

But one thing for sure, I don't think we can disregard the wind turbines only because the look bad in the landscape. I believe that going from the current system to a sustainable system will only be possible through giving up on some things. And that will reach everyone.

For everyone, in all the directions you can criticize the wind turbines (landscape impact, enviromental impact, uncertainty, killing of birds, etc etc) or even in any kind of critic you might do in your life, explaining your point without a well sustained alternatives is not an option. Simply not valid.

In the end, there is not that much of relative when it comes to the fundamentals of common world's well being.
We are still in the phase of general awareness. Irony for our sophisticated minds. 

And you, what do you think about all this? 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Topic Introduction

Hi everyone again! Long time no see. If I said that a blogger life is easy I take out those words, inspiration is not easy to find these days!

In the second intervention in my blog I intend to talk a bit about my work. oshhhh...boring...

Since my last post my work has been progressing smoothly, in this phase I´m looking only to the load model that loads a wind turbine and its support structures (external variables like the wind, waves...etc) and how to treat it statistically. Recently I have been analyzing offshore data that was collected in Ireland over the last 12 years (a courtesy of Met-√Čireann).

Now! Engineering things like offshore wind turbines are built with the expectation of a long, prosperous and peaceful live. If that does not happen, as an engineer prepare to wake up with some investors in front of your door in their classical "stressed" style but instead of holding black cases, holding axes, knives, guns and well... one or another with a flamethrower...

So, how can we guarantee that nothing is going wrong and we have a long life in our turbine?
The first step is guaranteeing that we know what is going to load the turbine very well.
But, in time gaps of 10, 20, 30 years?
Can you imagine if every time we wanted to address a certain site we needed to measure 10, 20 or 30 years of data to accurately characterize the long term behavior of any physical phenomena?
For some purposes we might do it but, on a daily basis, no way!, in the crazy world we live there's no time for that! We really need something that makes the process much faster.

Usually field data are limited. We measure it but like, we cannot be doing it during 30 years the wind prior to any further step....
So, usually the trick is fitting, and applying known statistical distributions to describe uncertain long term phenomena.
In easy words, you do your best with all the data that you have to find a graphical representation like a curve, or surface, that better goes trough all your data. This way, you can know more or less what is happening between those points without needing to detect every possible occurrence in 30 years.

Obviously the less data we have the harder is to have a good representation of the reality, and even harder when we are looking for rare events like extreme events that are in the small tails of the distributions. And if there is some joint dependence, even harder!  For approximating these tails, several techniques and distributions are used as, block maxima, peak over threshold or distributions like the Weibull, Gumbell, or other.

The challenge for the following months is then, diving into this "swamp" of already existing ideas of extreme statistics and come out with a needle from it (or the more mainstream "a needle in the haystack"... which looks easy if we think in a swamp)
Hard, hein? ...but, don´t worry I already have the life-jacket dressed and a rope tied to a tree so that I don't drown myself! I'm kinda of good swimmer too

Already a long post! Bigmouth strikes again..

Next time I'll come with a more light approach to the theme Offshore Wind Turbines. I don't want anyone to have an overdose of boredom while coming here...
So I´ll leave the second part that I was thinking on publishing today to the next weeks, the discussion will be one of the most hot topics of the engineering fashion world: Are Wind Turbines in the landscape cool or not? (I'm not a civil engineer, but I already  know that architects are saying nooo)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Who's him?

Hello everyone!

My name is Rui Teixeira, I'm 26 years old Portuguese guy that is currently working at Trinity College in Dublin. This blog that you're seeing was created with the expectation of having a spot where I can present my work, progress and to share my experiences in the following years. 
As my first blog ever, I will try not to overdose  you with complicated terms and heavy stuff and I'll do my best to bring you to the world of the Wind Turbines engineering.
Well, as you can easily deduce from my brief introduction and the title of the blog I am working on the Probabilistic Optimization of Offshore Wind Turbines Towers. Yes I know... It is a very "cool" theme, but for now, lets start with myself: 
I was born in Madeira, a small island in the middle of the Atlantic. It is a very small island that, if you're used to the big mainland, it will for sure make you feel claustrophobic. The island is very beautiful and I completely recommend. Some friends here say that I came from the Jurassic Park due to the island's resemblance... (no, not because I look pre-historic... Well...sometimes...)  Its also where Ronaldo the Portuguese player comes from...so, it's always an entertainment here with some Spanish colleagues... 
I can tell it was long trip until I ended in Dublin. I left Madeira after high school to study Mechanical Engineering at Porto's University, and I lived there for 8 years between studies and work. I can tell it's a second home, and I'm proud that It's a very good one. 
Six months ago, as many people have done these years, I just embraced this new challenge of coming to a completely different country. So far, and we know how hard it can be leaving our comfort, I can tell you that it has been a very positive experience and I'm glad I had this opportunity.  

About what I like to do? I'm quite a normal person. I love music, going for a beer, hanging out with friends, football (Sport Lisbon Benfica is like a religion), sports, movies...no strange fetishes... don't worry. Ahh, and love laughing (who doesn't?).

My project, ESR4, named "Probabilistic Optimization of the Design of Offshore Wind Turbine Towers" is part of Marie Sklodowska - Curie ITN Project "TRUSS" funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020. I'm based, as I said earlier, at the Trinity College Dublin, which is a really really amazing University. One of those where you can feel the pressure of the years of history and big names. Compulsory visit when in Dublin.  My supervisor is Prof. Alan O'Connor, and my co-supervisor is Dr. Maria Nogal. With their support I hope that after 3 years of hard work, and I hope not much white hairs, my research results in a successful PhD thesis. 

Now, what's this thing of Probabilistic Analysis? 
Well, its a progressively more common practice on the engineering field that tries to account for the uncertainties inherent to any physical system (e.g variations in resistance; loads; environmental factors; etc...). You know, everywhere you can find uncertainty. 
If you're crazy enough and into quantum mechanics, generally you can even say that yourself, you're just a statistical occurrence in time (quantum mechanics people will kill me for this one).  
So, it's important to work on these uncertainties so that one working, on engineering, economy, medicine, politics, all the fields of knowledge, can have a clear overview of the risks associated with every activity. 
In my specific case I am focusing my studies in the uncertainty when applied to extreme events  that are located in the statistical regions of low occurrence (e.g. high wind velocities, high wave heights). These events can be quite dangerous for the operation of the turbines.  
In the first months of activity I have been focused on reviewing the literature to understand better the problems that need to be tackled. Currently, I'm moving to the problem of extrapolating extreme environmental occurrences.  

So, this finishes my first post, a very soft and brief overview of everything. It was long enough.  
I expect to be "feeding" you with news about my work and further developments on this field. I will try to add some soft posts too whenever possible!

My habitat for the next seasons: 

If you come to Trinity and need help with something I'm always around!
If you have any question, anything, feel free to ask me: rteixeir@tcd.ie