Project

Development of fast design methods for suction caisson foundations

Goal: This project is centred around the development of a family of computationally efficient design methods, that can predict the behaviour of suction caisson foundations under six degrees-of-freedom loading. These design methods were developed for applications where timeliness or speed is a crucial factor e.g. large scale foundation optimisation for offshore wind farms.

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Project log

Stephen Suryasentana
added a research item
Although there are many methods for assessing vertical stiffness of footings on the ground, simplified solutions to evaluate lateral, rotational, and torsional static stiffness are much more limited, particularly for nonhomogeneous profiles of shear modulus with depth. This paper addresses the topic by introducing a novel “work-equivalent” framework to develop new simplified design methods for estimating the stiffnesses of footings under multiple degrees-of-freedom loading for general nonhomogeneous soils. Furthermore, this framework provides a unified basis to analyze two existing design methods that have diverging results. 3D finite element analyses were carried out to investigate the soil–footing interaction for a range of continuously varying and multilayered nonhomogeneous soils, and to validate the new design approach.
Stephen Suryasentana
added a research item
Failure envelope formulations are typically employed to assess the ultimate capacity of foundations under combined loading and for incorporation in macro-element models. However, the complex interaction between each load component, especially for six degree of freedom (6DoF) loading, means that determining satisfactory formulations is often a complex process. Previous researchers have identified this difficulty as an obstacle to the adoption of the failure envelope approach in foundation engineering applications. To address this issue, the paper describes a systematic procedure for deriving globally convex failure envelope formulations; the procedure is applied to a circular surface foundation, bearing on undrained clay, in 6DoF load space. The formulations are shown to closely represent the failure load combinations determined from finite element analyses for a variety of loading conditions, including non-planar horizontal-moment loading. An example macro-element model based on the proposed formulation is described; the macro-element model provides a close representation of the foundation behaviour determined from a separate finite element analysis. A key aspect of the paper is that it demonstrates an automated process to determine well-behaved failure envelope formulations. The automated nature of the process has considerable advantages over the manual procedures that have previously been employed to determine failure envelope formulations.
Stephen Suryasentana
added a research item
Suction caisson foundations provide options for new foundation systems for offshore structures, particularly for wind turbine applications. During the foundation design process, it is necessary to make reliable predictions of the stiffness of the foundation, since this has an important influence on the dynamic performance of the overall support structure. The dynamic characteristics of the structure, in turn, influence its fatigue life. This paper describes a thermodynamically-consistent Winkler model, called OxCaisson, that delivers computationally efficient estimates of foundation stiffness for caissons installed in homogeneous and non-homogeneous linear elastic soil, for general six degrees-of-freedom loading. OxCaisson is capable of delivering stiffness predictions that are comparable to those computed with three-dimensional finite element analysis, but at a much lower computational cost. Therefore, the proposed model is suited to design applications where both speed and accuracy are essential, such as large-scale fatigue assessments of offshore wind farm structures. The paper demonstrates that the OxCaisson model can also be applied to short rigid monopile foundations.
Stephen Suryasentana
added a research item
This paper describes an automated approach for determining the optimal dimensions (length and diameter) of a suction caisson foundation subject to lateral loads, to minimise the foundation weight, whilst satisfying installation requirements, serviceability and ultimate limit states. The design problem was cast as a constrained optimisation problem. Solutions were initially developed using a graphical approach; the solution process was then repeated with an automated approach using an optimisation solver. Both approaches were feasible because a computationally efficient elastoplastic Winkler model was used to model the suction caisson foundation behavior under applied loading. The automated approach was found to be fast and reasonably accurate (when compared to more computationally expensive design procedures using three-dimensional finite element analyses). The benefits of this approach, made possible by the efficiency of the models employed, include better design outcomes and reduced design time.
Stephen Suryasentana
added a research item
Most existing Winkler models use non-linear elastic soil reactions to capture the non-linear be-haviour of foundations. These models cannot easily capture phenomena such as permanent displacement, hys-teresis and the influence of combined loading on the failure states. To resolve these shortcomings, an elasto-plastic Winkler model for suction caisson foundations under combined loading is presented. The proposed model combines Winkler-type linear elastic soil reactions with local plastic yield surfaces to model the non-linear soil response using standard plasticity theory, albeit in a simplified one-dimensional (1D) framework. The results demonstrate that the model reproduces the appropriate foundation behaviour, comparing closely to three-dimensional finite element (3DFE) analyses but with the advantage of rapid computation time.
Stephen Suryasentana
added a project goal
This project is centred around the development of a family of computationally efficient design methods, that can predict the behaviour of suction caisson foundations under six degrees-of-freedom loading. These design methods were developed for applications where timeliness or speed is a crucial factor e.g. large scale foundation optimisation for offshore wind farms.
 
Stephen Suryasentana
added 3 research items
The failure envelope approach is widely used to assess the ultimate capacity of shallow foundations for combined loading, and to develop foundation macro-element models. Failure envelopes are typically determined by fitting appropriate functions to a set of discrete failure load data, determined either experimentally or numerically. However, current procedures to formulate failure envelopes tend to be ad hoc, and the resulting failure envelopes may not have the desirable features of being convex and well-behaved for the entire domain of interest. This paper describes a new systematic framework to determine failure envelopes - based on the use of sum of squares convex polynomials - that are guaranteed to be convex and well-behaved. The framework is demonstrated by applying it to three data sets for failure load combinations (vertical load, horizontal load and moment) for shallow foundations on clay. An example foundation macro-element model based on the proposed framework is also described.
The failure envelope approach is commonly used to assess the capacity of shallow foundations under combined loading, but there is limited published work that compares the performance of various numerical procedures for determining failure envelopes. This paper addresses this issue by carrying out a detailed numerical study to evaluate the accuracy, computational efficiency and resolution of these numerical procedures. The procedures evaluated are the displacement probe test, the load probe test, the swipe test (referred to in this paper as the single swipe test) and a less widely used procedure called the sequential swipe test. Each procedure is used to determine failure envelopes for a circular surface foundation and a circular suction caisson foundation under planar vertical, horizontal and moment (VHM) loading for a linear elastic, perfectly plastic von Mises soil. The calculations use conventional, incremental-iterative finite element analysis (FEA) except for the load probe tests, which are performed using finite element limit analysis (FELA). The results demonstrate that the procedures are similarly accurate, except for the single swipe test, which gives a load path that underpredicts the failure envelope in many of the examples considered. For determining a complete VHM failure envelope, the FEA-based sequential swipe test is shown to be more efficient and provide better resolution than the displacement probe test, while the FELA-based load probe test is found to offer a good balance of efficiency and accuracy.